PBA Commissioner’s Cup

100th win: Phoenix solves Magnolia puzzle to extend PBA campaign

Delfin Dioquino

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100th win: Phoenix solves Magnolia puzzle to extend PBA campaign

CELEBRATION. The Phoenix Fuel Masters in action in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

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Facing elimination, Phoenix shows steely resolve and overcomes a huge deficit to end its years-long skid against Magnolia and stay alive in the PBA Commissioner's Cup

MANILA, Philippines – Phoenix clinched its 100th victory in franchise history in the most special way.

Facing elimination, the Fuel Masters showed steely resolve and overcame a huge deficit to stun Magnolia and extend their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals with a 103-85 win at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, January 28.

Led by captain RJ Jazul, the locals rose to the occasion as Phoenix stormed back from a 21-point hole to stay alive in the best-of-five affair after dropping the first two games.

The Fuel Masters also beat the Hotshots for the first time since 2020 after enduring a 10-game losing streak in their head-to-head battles.

“It is the 100th win for the franchise and we’re just happy that we got it,” said Phoenix head coach Jamike Jarin. “100th win for the franchise and we got it in the semifinals. I’m just happy for the franchise and for everybody.”

Jazul fired 17 points on a 5-of-7 clip from three-point distance as five of the Fuel Masters’ locals scored in double figures to backstop import Johnathan Williams, who finished with game-highs of 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Williams took over in the pivotal third quarter, churning out 11 points in the period to help Phoenix swing a 38-51 halftime deficit to a 71-67 lead going into the final salvo.

Jazul then picked up where Williams left off as the veteran guard sank three consecutive treys in the fourth quarter for an 85-71 lead, allowing the Fuel Masters to hand Magnolia its most lopsided loss of the conference.

The Hotshots fell by a combined 8 points in their only other two losses of the tournament.

“We did not want to go home,” said Jazul. “We do it together. Everyone is important.”

Javee Mocon and rookie Kenneth Tuffin supplied 14 points in the win, while Sean Manganti turned out to be an unlikely hero for Phoenix as he chimed in a conference-high 14 points.

His field goals not falling, Jason Perkins buried all of his six free throws to finish with 13 points for the Fuel Masters, who are 2-0 in do-or-die games this conference after surviving Meralco in a sudden death in the quarterfinals.

Tyler Bey paced the Hotshots with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 steals, Paul Lee netted 17 points, while Calvin Abueva posted 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Magnolia enjoyed a lead as big as 47-26 midway through the second quarter before it fell apart as it got outscored by Phoenix 65-34 in the second half.

The Scores

Phoenix 103 – Williams 19, Jazul 17, Manganti 14, Tuffin 14, Mocon 14, Perkins 13, Rivero 6, Tio 4, Verano 2, Muyang 0, Lalata 0, Garcia 0, Alejandro 0, Camacho.

Magnolia 85 – Bey 18, Lee 17, Abueva 14, Sangalang 10, Barroca 7, Ahanmisi 6, JReavis 4, alalon 4, Dela Rosa 2, Dionisio 2, Mendoza 0, Tratter 0, Eriobu 0.

Quarters: 17-31, 38-51, 71-67, 103-85.

– 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.