By Jonas Terrado
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – GlobalPort vs Columbian
7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Meralco
Phoenix sustained a hot start this time and crushed GlobalPort, 135-108, to keep its quarterfinal hopes alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Eugene Phelps produced a triple-double with 37 points, 23 rebounds and 10 assists and Matthew Wright added 24 points on six threes as Phoenix snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to 4-6, half-game out of sixth spot shared at presstime by GlobalPort, Columbian and Magnolia.
Columbian had identical 4-5 slates with GlobalPort and Magnolia before facing Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at presstime.
Coach Louie Alas hailed his team’s consistent showing after blowing double-digit leads against defending champion San Miguel, Columbian and Rain or Shine during the skid.
“Finally na-manage namin yung lead,” said Alas. “Ilang games na pagdating ng second half, nagfo-fold kami. Hopefully this is the start of something big for us.”
The Fuel Masters won two days after dealing Jeff Chan in a trade for this year’s first round draft pick and before a 17-day break.
Their next match will be against the Alaska Aces on July 6 at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Phoenix no longer controls its destiny despite the wire-to-wire victory, that’s why Alas hopes to maximize the break to fully prepare for the crucial encounter with Alaska.
With Wright scoring 11 points on a perfect 3-of-3 triples, Phoenix scored 41 points in the first quarter to lead by 19. But unlike in recent games, particularly against Rain or Shine last Saturday when they blew a similar margin, the Fuel Masters were able to hike their lead to send the Batang Pier into oblivion.
Jason Perkins, who has become the unlikely contender for the Rookie of the Year, added 13 points and RJ Jazul chipped in 11, including a three-pointer at garbage time off Phelps’ assist that sealed the latter’s triple-double.
GlobalPort, which posted a stunning 98-94 defeat of San Miguel last week, blew a chance to gain solo fifth in the standings after playing its worst performance of the conference.
The Batang Pier’s frustrations were evident when Kelly Nabong was tossed late in the third for a Flagrant Foul 1. He was earlier assessed with a technical foul, thus resulting to his ejection.
Import Malcolm White scored 24 points for GlobalPort.
PHOENIX 135 – Phelps 37, Wright 24, Perkins 13, Jazul 11, Revilla 9, Intal 9, Gamboa 9, Kramer 6, Wilson 6, Dehesa 4, Guevarra 3, Mendoza 2, Chua 2.
GLOBALPORT 108 – White 24, Anthony 15, Pringle 14, Javelona 10, Elorde 9, Grey 9, Guinto 8, Arana 7, Tautuaa 6, Gabayni 3, Flores 2, Nabong 1, Bulawan 0.
Quarters: 41-22; 70-51; 107-77; 135-108.