MANILA, Philippines – The Phoenix Fuel Masters ended their three-game run of futility in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup after keeping the NorthPort Batang Pier winless off a 108-97 pullaway at the PhilSports Arena on Thursday, February 2.
Jason Perkins was an offensive menace all game long, as he tied import Du’vaughn Maxwell with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in just 30 minutes of action to help Phoenix rise to a 1-3 record.
Maxwell, meanwhile, converted on a 10-of-19 clip to go with 11 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, while sniper RJ Jazul and all-around forward Sean Manganti added 16 and 13 points, respectively, both on 5-of-7 shooting.
Off a comfortable 27-point lead, 84-57, with 3:26 left in the third quarter, Phoenix found itself at the mercy of NorthPort’s huge 30-8 fightback through the fourth, capped with a Kent Salado putback to get within 5, 87-92, with around 7 minutes left to play.
Sensing disaster, the Fuel Masters steeled their resolve and pulled away with a quick 10-1 response, ending with a Perkins mid-range jumper with 4:15 left to regain a 14-point separation, 102-88, that the Batang Pier were ultimately unable to recover from.
“Well, we give credit to all the players for staying positive and all the coaches. Our first two games, we had a chance to win that, but by staying positive, we got a win,” said interim head coach Jamike Jarin, who finally got his first PBA career win.
“Hopefully, this starts a good winning streak heading to our next games.”
Apart from import Marcus Weathers, who led all scorers with 31 points in the sorry loss, only Salado and recovering forward Art dela Cruz got going from the NorthPort locals with 15 and 12 points off the bench, respectively, in around 17 minutes of action each.
Seeking an all-important winning streak, the Fuel Masters have a tall task ahead of them on Saturday, February 4, 4:30 pm, at Ynares Antipolo, as they face the undefeated NLEX Road Warriors led by the China-bound Jonathon Simmons, who is seeking a 4-0 finish to his short PBA stint.
The road to win number one for the Batang Pier, meanwhile, is by no means any easier as they take on the well-rested Barangay Ginebra on Friday, February 10, 5:45 pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Phoenix 108 – Perkins 26, Maxwell 26, Jazul 15, Manganti 13, Tio 8, Garcia 6, Serrano 6, Muyang 2, Lojera 2, Lalata 2, Soyud 1, Adamos 0, Alejandro 0, Camacho 0, Go 0.
NorthPort 97 – Weathers 28, Salado 15, Dela Cruz 12, Munzon 8, Chan 7, Tolentino 6, Sumang 5, Balagasay 5, Calma 2, Zamar 2, Taha 2, Caperal 2, Ayaay 0.
Quarters: 23-25, 55-46, 86-71, 108-97.
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