Calvin Abueva stuffed the stats sheet and propelled Phoenix to the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs after a 100-95 comeback win over Blackwater at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga on Monday, November 9.
Abueva churned out 17 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals as the Fuel Masters fought back from down 16 points to notch their third straight win and seventh overall in 10 games.
Phoenix forged a 3-way tie at the top spot with Barangay Ginebra and TNT, bolstering its chances of finishing within the top 4, which comes with a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals.
Abueva came up big defensively down the stretch with two crucial blocks in the last 3 minutes as his teammates Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins showed the way on offense.
Perkins, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, scored 4 straight markers for a 95-87 Fuel Masters lead before Wright sank 3 free throws in the final minute to keep the Elite at bay.
Wright put up 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, Bryan Heruela had 15 points, and 7 rebounds, while Justin Chua chimed in 7 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the win.
RJ Jazul and RR Garcia made their presence felt for Phoenix with 9 points apiece and a combined 10 rebounds.
“We struggled at the start and slowly but surely, we picked it up,” said Fuel Masters head coach Topex Robinson. “These games will only make us better. These games will only make us grow.”
Already eliminated from playoff contention, Blackwater sought to stall Phoenix from reaching the quarterfinals as it led by as many as 16 points, 52-36, early in the second half.
But the Elite, who dropped to 2-8, eventually fizzled out, getting outscored 66-50 in the last two quarters.
KG Cañaleta led Blackwater with 21 points, Mac Belo chalked up 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Don Trollano added 13 points and 8 rebounds in the losing effort.
Phoenix 100 – Perkins 18, Wright 18, Abueva 17, Heruela 15, Garcia 9, Jazul 9, Chua 7, Intal 6, Marcelo 2, Rios 0, Mallari 0.
Blackwater 95 – Calaneta 21, Belo 17, Trollano 13, Escoto 11, Tolomia 9, Magat 8, Sumang 8, Gabriel 4, Dario 2, Daquioag 2, Golla 0, Salem 0, Dennison 0.
Quarters: 15-21, 34-45, 67-70, 100-95.