PBA Philippine Cup

At 34, RR Garcia nets 1st double-double as Phoenix breaks through

Delfin Dioquino

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At 34, RR Garcia nets 1st double-double as Phoenix breaks through

LET IT FLY. RR Garcia in action for the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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Veteran guard RR Garcia nets a season-high in points and a career-high in assists to lift Phoenix to its first win in the PBA Philippine Cup

MANILA, Philippines – It does not come around often, but veteran guard RR Garcia can still turn back the hands of time.

Garcia, 34, notched his first PBA career double-double and powered Phoenix to a breakthrough win in the Philippine Cup following a 94-78 demolition of Terrafirma at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, March 13.

Taking over in the absence of injured guard Tyler Tio, Garcia netted a season-high 20 points and a career-high 10 assists on top of 6 rebounds as the Fuel Masters rebounded after back-to-back losses to open the tournament.

“We’re without Tyler so I needed to step up as a veteran in this team,” said Garcia in Filipino.

Phoenix trailed 39-44 at halftime before Garcia took charge as he scattered 16 points in the second half, helping his side pull away for good after a 64-64 deadlock at the end of the third quarter.

Garcia also thrived as a facilitator, with three of his teammates scoring in double figures: Jason Perkins (18), Kenneth Tuffin (17), and Larry Muyang (13).

It was such a playmaking masterclass from Garcia that he posted his career-best in assists with zero turnovers.

Garcia said he simply wanted to win, knowing that a 0-3 record would not be ideal for the Fuel Masters’ bid of another deep run after Phoenix reached the semifinals for just the third time in franchise history last conference.

“We needed this first win. I hope this continues,” said Garcia.

Perkins also finished with 7 rebounds and 5 assists, Tuffin added 9 rebounds, and Muyang hauled down 7 rebounds in the victory that saw the Fuel Masters outscore the Dyip, 30-14, in the fourth period.

Still within striking distance at 75-80, Terrafirma fell apart as Phoenix went on a pivotal 12-0 run capped by back-to-back Garcia buckets for a 92-75 lead with under 1:30 minutes left.

Javi Gomez de Liaño put up 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals for the Dyip, who absorbed their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

All-Star guard Juami Tiongson tallied 16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals in the losing effort as Terrafirma missed the services of top rookie Stephen Holt, who sat out with back issues.

The Scores

Phoenix 94 – Garcia 20, Perkins 18, Tuffin 17, Muyang 13, Daves 8, Mocon 8, Jazul 7, Rivero 3, Manganti 0, Alejandro 0, Verano 0

Terrafirma 78 – Gomez de Liano 19, Tiongson 16, Camson 10, Alolino 8, Sangalang 8, Go 4, Carino 4, Mina 3, Ramos 2, Olivario 2, Calvo 2, Cahilig 0

Quarters: 19-16, 39-44, 64-64, 94-78.

– 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.