PBA: McKay powers Phoenix

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Import Jameel McKay made the shaded lane his own territory and finished with 42 points and 22 rebounds as Phoenix dealt Alaska its second straight loss, 94-86, yesterday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The lanky 6-foot-9 with dreadlocks already had a double-double with eight minutes left in the second quarter that kept the Fuel Masters ahead for majority of the contest, before completing the upset win with several dunks off pick-and-roll plays in the fourth quarter that frustrated the Aces.

McKay, however, suffered from cramps with 1:22 left in the game and Phoenix carrying an 88-81 lead. Fortunately for the Fuel Masters, there was no repeat of their massive collapse against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Holy Wednesday to gain a 3-4 record heading into the All-Star break.

“Ibang dimension ang binibigay niya dahil sa mga hustle plays niya,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia of McKay, who joined the team in the second game of the conference after helping the Perth Wildcats win Australia’s National Basketball League title.

“I think Jameel’s getting better every time and we know how to play with him,” added Vanguardia. “He’s not really your typical go-to-guy but there’s a lot of positives with him. He plays defense and he plays hard every time.”

Three dunks by McKay in the fourth highlighted the victory, the last giving Phoenix an 88-76 lead with 2:59 left.

Cyrus Baguio and RJ Jazul reminded their former team of the past as they were the other double-digit scorers for the Fuel Masters with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Baguio had eight points in the first half while Jazul added eight assists as they beat the Aces for the first time since they were dealt through separate trades with Baguio being dealt last season and Jazul sent for Simon Enciso before the start of the conference.

“I felt that they were too nice playing against them but they stepped up,” Vanguardia said. “I think us executing through RJ and Cyrus proved to be instrumental in this victory.”

Phoenix was able to redeem itself after the crushing setback to Rain or Shine that saw Vanguardia and company squander a big lead with two minutes left in regulation and fell 96-94.

Cory Jefferson had 31 points and 13 rebounds but was outmatched by McKay’s boundless energy as the Aces lost anew after a 4-0 start. Alaska opted to rest Calvin Abueva, who sustained a cut on his lip during Gilas Pilipinas practice last Monday.

PHOENIX 94 – McKay 42, Baguio 12, Jazul 10, Borboran 7, Wright 7, Kramer 6, Alolino 5, Miranda 5, Dehesa 0, Torres 0.

ALASKA 86 – Jefferson 31, Casio 14, Thoss 8, Exciminiano 6, Mendoza 6, Racal 6, Enciso 5, Cruz 3, De la Cruz 3, Andrada 2, Hontiveros 2, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 25-19; 42-36; 66-62; 94-86.

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Written by Jonas Terrado

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