MANILA, Philippines – The Phoenix Fuel Masters had just enough gas left in the tank to prevent a collosal meltdown against the reeling Barangay Ginebra, 87-82, in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum Friday, January 26.
Phoenix looked like it was in for the easy win after being up by as much as 24 points until the Gin Kings regained their bearings in the fourth quarter.
The Fuel Masters held an 81-74 lead midway the payoff period before Ginebra went on a 15-4 spurt, capped by a Scottie Thompson and-one play with 41.6 seconds left, to close the gap at 6 points, 79-85.
Kevin Ferrer buried a triple with 2.8 ticks remaining but it was not enough to complete the Ginebra comeback as Jeff Chan, who had 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, calmly sank his freebies to help Phoenix end its two-game skid.
Matthew Wright finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while Willie Wilson made his presence felt with 19 markers, 5 rebounds and 2 steals for the Fuel Masters, who improved to 3-3.
“Latter part we were too cautious eh. 'Yun 'yung mahirap sa team na dinedevelop mo pa 'yung winning habit. But we’re getting there,” said Phoenix head coach Louie Alas. “Good thing nakapundar kami ng malaking lamang.”
(We were too cautious in the latter parts of the game. That is what is hard with a team still developing their winning habit. But we’re getting there. Good thing is we built a huge lead.)
Ginebra had a slim 29-28 advantage midway the second period before Phoenix went on a 21-0 spurt to head into the break with a 49-29 cushion.
Thompson starred for the Gin Kings with 22 points, 20 coming in the second half alone, to go with 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals but all that went for naught as Ginebra drops to 2-3.
Japeth Aguilar added 21 points and 9 rebouns while Ferrer and LA Tenorio chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Phoenix 87: Chan 19, Wilson 19, Wright 19, Perkins 12, Revilla 6, Alolino 4, Mendoza 4, Kramer 2, Jazul 2, Intal 0, Guevarra 0
Ginebra 82: Thompson 22, Aguilar J. 21, Ferrer 11, Tenorio 10, Caguioa 6, Cruz 6, Aguilar R. 3, Mariano 3, Taha 0, Mercado 0, Wilson 0, Jamito 0
Quarter scores: 15-19, 49-29, 75-53, 87-82.
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.