PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Twice-to-beat bonus clinched as Phoenix outlasts Meralco

Delfin Dioquino

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Twice-to-beat bonus clinched as Phoenix outlasts Meralco

DEFENSE. Johnathan Williams in action for the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioners' Cup.

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Phoenix nets its first twice-to-beat advantage since the 2020 Philippine Cup as it claims its seventh win in the last eight games

MANILA, Philippines – Phoenix clinched a prized twice-to-beat protection in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals after claiming a 93-83 win over Meralco at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, January 10.

Jason Perkins set the tone and import Johnathan Williams III churned out an all-around effort as the Fuel Masters returned to the winning column and seized solo second place with an 8-2 record behind No. 1 Magnolia (9-2).

Perkins torched the Bolts with a game-high 22 points on top of 8 rebounds, while Williams tallied 19 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in the victory that netted Phoenix its first win-once incentive since the 2020 Philippine Cup.

Even if it ends up in a tie with San Miguel (7-2), Barangay Ginebra (7-2), and Meralco (7-3) at the end of the elimination round, the Fuel Masters will finish no lower than fourth place.

Buried by 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, 72-86, the Bolts threatened a comeback when they pulled within 83-88 off an 11-2 run sparked and capped by a Cliff Hodge triple and a Shonn Miller slam dunk.

A pair of turnovers seemed to have doomed Phoenix, but Meralco failed to capitalize and witnessed Fuel Masters captain RJ Jazul drain a back-breaking three-point under 1:20 minutes to go.

Jazul tallied 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Tyler Tio fired 15 points as Phoenix won seven of its last eight games.

Perkins and Tio scored 8 and 7 points, respectively, in the opening quarter, where the Fuel Masters propped up their biggest lead of the game at 31-16.

Miller put up 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 steals in the losing effort for the Bolts, who were unable to build on the momentum of their feisty 85-80 win over the league-leading Hotshots in Iloilo City last Saturday.

To make the top four and secure a playoff bonus, Meralco has to win its last game against Terrafirma on Friday, January 12, and needs either San Miguel or Ginebra to drop its final assignment.

Chris Banchero contributed 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists for the Bolts, while Chris Newsome had 13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.

The Scores

Phoenix 93 – Perkins 22, Williams 19, Tio 15, Jazul 13, Tuffin 6, Mocon 5, Rivero 5, Alejandro 4, Verano 2, Manganti 2, Camacho 0, Siyud 0, Garcia 0.

Meralco 83 – Miller 19, Banchero 15, Newsome 13, Quinto 10, Black 8, Almazan 8, Rios 5, Hodge 5, Pascual 0, Maliksi 0, Bates 0, Caram 0.

Quarters: 31-19, 54-47, 78-66, 93-83.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.