by Jonas Terrado
Games Tomorrow (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Meralco
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs Phoenix
The Phoenix Fuel Masters gave coach Louie Alas a huge birthday present last night by crushing the NLEX Road Warriors, 123-97, to remain in contention for a twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Import Eugene Phelps erupted for 51 points, his fourth career game of at least 50, while adding 20 rebounds to lead the Fuel Masters’ rampage that saw them take command from start to finish and claim their sixth victory in eight games in the season-ending conference.
Phoenix stayed within pace of defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (7-1), Blackwater (6-1), Magnolia (5-1) and Alaska (4-1) in the race for the quarterfinal bonus given to the top four teams after the eliminsations.
Blackwater and Magnolia were playing at presstime, the winner boosting its chances gaining the twice-to-beat.
Calvin Abueva kept his strong play in the tournament with 17 points and seven rebounds for Phoenix on the day Alas celebrated his 55th birthday.
“I expected a very close game because NLEX was coming off a loss against Ginebra. But I have to credit to my players because their defense and committing few turnovers,” said Alas, whose team also lost to Ginebra (101-99) in Cagayan de Oro City less than two weeks ago.
Phoenix led by a high of 41 points in the third, giving Alas the luxury of giving his key players an early rest ahead of tomorrow’s encounter with San Miguel Beer at the nearby Mall of Asia Arena.
PHOENIX 123 – Phelps 51, Abueva 17, Wright 10, Perkins 9, Wilson 8, Intal 7, Revilla 5, Jazul 3, Guevarra 3, Mendoza 3, Eriobu 3, Chua 2, Gamboa 2, Alolino 0, Kramer 0.
NLEX 97 – Fuller 38, Galanza 13, Fonacier 10, Tiongson 6, Monfort 5, Ighalo 4, Quinahan 4, Marcelo 3, Baguio 3, Rios 3, Miranda 3, Tallo 3, Soyud 2, Paniamogan 0, Taulava 0.
Quarters: 34-18, 71-33, 94-67, 123-97.