THE Phoenix Fuel Masters snapped out of a telling four-game losing streak yesterday, defeating the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 135-108, to keep their flickering playoff hopes in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup alive.
Now at 4-6 with one game left to play in the elimination round, the Fuel Masters need to win their last game and hope other teams on the fringes of the playoff picture fall short to get at least a shot at the eighth and final spot via a playoff.
In beating GlobalPort, Phoenix used an explosive opening quarter to create some distance and just kept its opponent at bay the rest of the way en route to the victory.
Phoenix raced to a 9-2 lead in the first two minutes of the contest before GlobalPort narrowed its deficit to just four points, 17-13, in the next five minutes.
A 9-0 blast by the Fuel Masters, led by Matthew Wright and import Eugene Phelps, extended their lead to 13 points, 26-13, at the 3:16 mark.
They continued to build on it thereafter, outscoring the Batang Pier for the remainder of the opening quarter, 15-9, to hold a 41-22 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
In the second canto, GlobalPort tried to make up for lost real estate.
But the Fuel Masters were not a willing party to what Batang Pier wanted to do, matching everything the latter threw at them.
By the halftime break, Phoenix continued to hold sway, 70-51.
The onslaught continued for Phoenix to start the third quarter as Mr. Wright and JC Intal found the mark from beyond the arc.
The count stood at 89-56, with Phoenix on top, midway into the frame.
The Fuel Masters stretched their lead to 36 points, 97-61, with 3:28 to go before settling for a 107-77 lead heading into the final quarter.
GlobalPort started the fourth period with a jacked-up defensive stance and more aggressiveness on offense, allowing it to cut Phoenix’s lead to 109-88 after two and a half minutes.
Phoenix though would establish order anew, padding its cushion to 28 points, 116-88, at the eighth-minute mark.
GlobalPort tried to recover from the Phoenix recoil after but it hardly made headway on that front as it saw itself slump to the defeat.
Mr. Phelps led Phoenix with a triple-double of 37 points, 23 rebounds and 10 assists.
Mr. Wright had 24 points before fouling out while Jason Perkins had 13 and RJ Jazul 11.
GlobalPort (4-5), meanwhile, was led by Malcolm White with 24 points and Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle finishing with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
“I guess we are still alive. But more than that, I hope this is a start of something big for us moving forward,” said Phoenix coach Louie Alas after their win.
Phoenix will have a long break before its big match against the Alaska Aces on July 6 where it hopes to get the win and possibly secure a spot for a playoff for a place in the quarterfinals while GlobalPort next plays on June 22 against Columbian Dyip.
--This article was published in "BusinessWorld"--