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Chan stellar in new team debut but Phoenix blows 15-point lead, falls to shorthanded Meralco

Meralco leaned on Allen Durham and Garvo Lanete to snatch the W away from Phoenix Petroleum after coming from 15 points down.
By Patrick Sutare

QUEZON CITY--Jeff Chan needed no multiple games to get the groove in his new team, but the scintillating debut performance was not enough to lift Phoenix over a shorthanded yet feisty Meralco team in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts bounced back from their record-denting defeat to NLEX, banking on a huge fourth quarter surge to roar back from 15 points down and nip the Fuel Masters, 107-104.

Meralco defied their depleted list of roster as they went back to the winning track and notch their fifth win of the conference.

Last year's tournament runners-up missed the services of starters Baser Amer, who is out of the country to play in the SEA Games with new acquisition Mike Tolomia, and Cliff Hodge, who is said to be bugged by an injury.

Garvo Lanete filled the void left by the team’s key players, bagging the Player of the Game honors after scattering 27 points, six triples. four rebounds and two assists.

Allen Durham teamed up with Lanete during the Bolts’ crucial spurt. The reigning Best Import of the Conference tallied 33 points, 16 rebounds and seven dimes to etch his own imprint in the come from behind win.

Phoenix dictated the tempo and prevailed over a topsy-turvy stretch during the first three quarters led by Chan and new import Brandon Brown to lead 84-75 going to the payoff period.

The former Rain or Shine sniper, who was part of a deal consummated last August 8, flaunted no signs of slowing down as he instantly delivered his worth as a reliable shooter, going off for 27 points, 17 of which came in the first half along with five boards, four dimes and four steals.

Brown, a temporary replacement for original reinforcement Eugene Phelps who is down due to a bruised left foot bone, exhibited his exploits as well, being a potent force on both ends to top-score his team with 38 markers, adding up nine boards across his name.

Both efforts, however, went for naught as Phoenix yielded in the end.

Meralco started the fourth like a house on fire, launching a 9-0 blast to tie the game, and even extended the salvo to 15-3 to snatch the lead with seven minutes to go, 90-87.

The erstwhile league-leading Bolts stretched the uprising to 21-3, giving them a commanding 96-87 edge halfway through the final frame.

But the guys in light shirts refused to fold as a series of buckets from Chan tied the game anew at 99 with less than three minutes to go, spelling a dog fight as the match went down the wire.

A perimeter basket from Reynel Hugnatan gave the Bolts a four-point cushion, 103-99, with a minute left.

Brown then retaliated with a long bomb, but he unfortunately stepped to the line, making the shot just a long two-pointer as the Fuel Masters trailed 101-103.

The skidding Phoenix squad waged a fight till the end as Brown fished a foul against Durham from beyond the arc and nailed all three of his freebies to come to within a point, 104-105, 8.9 seconds to go.

But a possible game tying trey from the new import after Lanete’s made charities misfired as the buzzer sounded.

The loss stretched the Fuel Masters’ losing skid to four as they now fall to a 2-4 record in the team standings.

Follow him on Twitter: @patricksutare