MANILA, Philippines – The Phoenix Fuel Masters snapped their three-game losing skid in the PBA Governors’ Cup after grinding out a 104-99 win over the Alaska Aces on Thursday, March 3, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Matthew Wright came up big for the Fuel Masters in the victory as he finished with an all-around game of 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists.
With the win, the Fuel Masters improved to 5-5 in the standings and kept their playoff hopes alive, while the Aces dropped to 6-4.
“We know how important this game is for us and we also know that Alaska is on a run, and we respect that team so much,” said Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson.
“We just have to make sure that we play it all out, and making sure also that we’re focusing on what we prepared for coming into this game,” he added.
After falling flat in their past three assignments, the Fuel Masters started off on the right foot and quickly led the Aces by double figures, 31-20, at the end of the first quarter.
Jason Perkins led the Fuel Masters’ charge in the opening period, pouring in 13 of his 22 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting.
The Aces, however, managed to trim the lead back to just a single point at halftime, 48-47, thanks to the hot hands of Robbie Herndon, who went 4-of-4 from three-point land in the second canto.
It was an exciting contest between both squads throughout the second half and with Phoenix hanging on to a slim two-point advantage, 101-99, with just 20 seconds left to play, Du’vaughn Maxwell, who is only playing in his first game as a replacement import for Dominique Sutton, delivered the dagger layup to secure the victory for the Fuel Masters.
Maxwell sizzled in his PBA debut for Phoenix, tallying a huge double-double of 21 points and 21 rebounds, while RJ Jazul also chipped in 21 markers.
For Alaska, Olu Ashaolu topscored with 24 points, to go along with 10 rebounds and 6 assists, while Herndon and Mike DiGregorio added 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Phoenix shoots for an important win against the Meralco Bolts in its final elimination game on Friday, March 11, at 3 pm, while Alaska also hopes to end the elimination round with a crucial victory when it faces the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday, March 6, at 4 pm.
Phoenix 104 – Wright 26, Perkins 22, Maxwell 21, Jazul 21, Porter 6, Manganti 5, Melecio 3, Pascual 0, Demusis 0, Rios 0, Robles 0.
Alaska 99 – Ashaolu 24, Herndon 17, Digregorio 13, Ahanmisi 12, Teng 12, Taha 10, Tratter 7, Bulanadi 2, Racal 2, Stockton 0, Ilagan 0, Faundo 0.
Quarters: 31-20, 48-47, 81-74, 104-99.