MANILA, Philippines – Encho Serrano played the best game of his young PBA career and willed Phoenix to a come-from-behind 106-103 win over Converge in the Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, February 26.
The rookie guard scored all of his season-high 28 points in the second half as the Fuel Masters completed their fightback from a 12-point deficit to improve to 3-5 and fan their playoff hopes.
Like a man possessed, Serrano unloaded 17 points in the fourth quarter, including the clutch buckets that allowed Phoenix to notch back-to-back victories for the first time this conference.
Serrano tied the game at 103-103 with a free throw and sank a short stab with 20 ticks left for a 105-103 edge – a lead that stood until the final buzzer as Converge import Jamaal Franklin muffed a pair of three-pointers late.
Franklin airballed a potential go-ahead triple and missed the game-tying trey at the buzzer after Fuel Masters guard Tyler Tio split his free throws with three seconds remaining for the final count.
Phoenix import Du’Vaughn Maxwell shone on both ends with 19 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 3 steals, while Tio and Jason Perkins chimed in 16 points each.
Larry Muyang added 8 points and Javee Mocon finished with 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in the triumph, which kept the Fuel Masters inside the playoff picture at eighth place.
None of it would have been possible without Serrano, who made the most of his 22 minutes of playing time by sinking 11 of his 16 field goals and contributing 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
The FiberXers tasted their biggest lead at 59-47 in the third quarter before Serrano took over, scattering 11 points in the period to help trim their deficit to just 66-69 going into the final salvo.
Franklin chalked up 30 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks in the defeat as Converge lost for the third time in five games after a sterling 4-0 start.
Rookie big man Justin Arana chipped in a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds for the FiberXers, while Kevin Racal, Alec Stockton, Jerrick Balanza, and Jeron Teng also netted 11 points each.
Phoenix 106 – Serrano 28, Maxwell 19, Perkins 16, Tio 16, Muyang 8, Mocon 7, Camaco 4, Jazul 3, Manganti 3, Garcia 2, Alejandro 0.
Converge 103 – Franklin 30, Stockton 11, Balanza 11, Racal 11, Teng 11, Ahanmisi 10, Arana 8, Ebona 4, Tratter 4, Browne 0.
Quarters: 23-24, 42-49, 66-69, 106-103.
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