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Phoenix withstands Blu-Malaysia's gallant stand


By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Phoenix staved off an early ejection to Mac Belo and a tired yet resilient Blu-Malaysia squad to crop a 97-94 win in their PBA D-League Foundation Cup match-up at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday.

Playing their third game in four days, the Dragons put up a good fight only for Mike Tolomia to spill everything with the go-ahead basket with 31.9 seconds left to keep the Accelerators undefeated in the tournament.

Phoenix had to play sans Belo the rest of the way as the wingman was slapped with a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2 following an elbow above the shoulder of Chun Hong Ting with 10.1 seconds left in the first quarter, automatically meting him the sendoff.

Still, the game, already close in the first, remained tight in the second with Phoenix entering the intermission with a slim 48-47 lead.

Blu-Malaysia, however, started the third period on an 8-0 run to take a 55-48 advantage.

The Accelerators slowly recovered and again kept the match close at the end of the quarter.

They tried to break loose, leading by six, 92-86, with 2:29 remaining in the game.

But Juami Tiongson, who finally played for the Dragons after missing the first two outings earlier in the week, buried a triple with 2:16 left while adding another deuce off a difficult layup with 38.1 seconds to go that eventually tied the game, 92-all.

Tolomia then saved the day for Phoenix with a pull-up jumper that put them back up, 94-92, with 31.9 remaining.

Blu-Malaysia failed to convert in the next play, but stayed alive as Ed Daquioag could only make one of two free throws with 16.3 seconds left as Phoenix held a 95-92 edge.

Tiongson drew the Dragons to within one off two free throws with 8.4 seconds to go, but Russell Escoto answered with two more of his own from the foul line less than a second later.

The Accelerators eventually escaped as the Dragons failed to force overtime as time expired.

Daquioag finished with 25 points, 13 coming in the fourth quarter, while Tolomia added 20 for Phoenix, which is now the provisional leaders in the team standings at 4-0, pending the Cafe France-Tanduay match later Thursday.

Tiongson fired 34 points while displaying an all-around performance with four rebounds and five assists for the still winless Blu-Malaysia.

Box Scores:

Phoenix 97-Daquioag 25, Tolomia 20, Jamito 19, Pogoy 10, Escoto 6, Tamsi 5, Mendoza 4, Andrada 3, Batino 2, Belo 2, Pascual 1, IƱigo 0, Knuttel 0

Blu-Malaysia 94-Tiongson 34, Kuek 21, Ting 12, Ma 11, Choo 5, Teo 5, Liaw 3, Wong 3, Mak 0, Ong 0, Palma 0

Quarterscores: 23-23, 48-47, 72-73, 97-94

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno