PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Phoenix rises to 6th straight win, sinks NorthPort to share top spot

Delfin Dioquino

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Phoenix rises to 6th straight win, sinks NorthPort to share top spot

LAYUP. Johnathan Williams III in action for the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

Johnathan Williams III falls just a dime short of a triple-double as Phoenix clinches a franchise record sixth straight win

MANILA, Philippines – Johnathan Williams III and Phoenix sustained their red-hot streak in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup after a 113-104 win over NorthPort at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, December 20.

Williams fell just a dime short of a triple-double with 38 points, 19 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks as the Fuel Masters picked up a franchise record sixth straight victory to gain a share of the lead in the standings.

Guaranteed of a quarterfinal berth, Phoenix improved to 7-1 and tied Magnolia for the top spot.

After a seesaw battle in the first three quarters, Williams took over in the final salvo, anchoring a 12-1 burst that broke 95-95 deadlock and gave the Fuel Masters a 107-96 lead with 4:20 minutes left.

Williams scattered 7 of his 11 fourth-quarter points during that run before youngsters Kenneth Tuffin and Tyler Tio put the finishing touches in the win.

Tuffin churned out 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, Tio fired 14 points with 3 rebounds, while Larry Muyang added 10 points and 6 rebounds.

Rookie guard Ricci Rivero chimed in 8 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks for Phoenix, which stretched its winning streak despite missing veteran forward Jason Perkins due to sickness.

“We came out kind of sluggish today. We were able to fight until the very end. My teammates made some clutch plays throughout the course of the game,” said Williams, who breached the 30-point mark for the first time.

Like Williams, Batang Pier import Venky Jois put up all-around numbers of 27 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals, but NorthPort simply ran out of gas in a game which featured 18 ties and 22 lead changes.

Arvin Tolentino, a two-time PBA Press Corps Player of the Week, netted 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the loss that marked the second straight for the Batang Pier.

NorthPort, which also got 13 points from Joshua Munzon and 12 points from Cade Flores, slipped to 5-4.

The Scores

Phoenix 113 – Williams 38, Tuffin 15, Tio 14, Muyang 10, Mocon 8, Rivero 8, Alejandro 6, Jazul 6, Garcia 4, Verano 3, Manganti 1, Camacho 0, Lalata 0, Daves 0.

NorthPort 104 – Jois 27, Tolentino 19, Munzon 13, Flores 12, Calma 11, Zamar 7, Bulanadi 6, Chan 3, Amores 3, Paraiso 2, Caperal 1, Yu 0, Rosales 0, Adamos 0.

Quarters: 26-28, 56-60, 87-89, 113-104.

– 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.