|Along with Willie Wilson, Jeff Chan led Phoenix's charge. PBA Media Bureau|
By Patrick Sutare
QUEZON CITY--Phoenix snapped its two-game losing skid after withstanding a late barrage from an undermanned Barangay Ginebra, 87-82, on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and get right back at the winning column of the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Fuel Masters banked on a late second quarter surge where they unleashed a crippling 21-0 run to pull away from being down 28-29 to building an insurmountable 49-29 at halftime to frustrate the skidding Gin Kings who looked visibly helpless offensively in the absence of some of their key players, most notably Greg Slaughter who missed his second straight game due to a hamstring injury.
Employing a leech-like full court pressing defense--the very same defensive ploy that tripped Ginebra against Alaska--Phoenix was able to force the skidding Kings to 23 turnovers which was converted to 24 points.
Further, the Fuel Masters were able to draw Japeth Aguilar into foul trouble--the fourth of which charged just as Ginebra was making some headways in the third.
With Ginebra’s defense going porous without its twin towers, Phoenix was able to stave off an impending run and led by 22 going into the payoff period, 75-53, before hanging tough against the Kings’ last push led by Scottie Thompson and secure the team’s third win of the tourney.
Coach Louie Alas and his boys are now tied with Rain or Shine for the fifth and sixth places in the standings with 3-3 while the Gin Kings suffered its third consecutive defeat to congest the bottom half of the standings with a 2-3 card.
If anything, Ginebra still had something to be upbeat about despite the loss. Still living up to its Never Say Die attitude, the Kings showed great might down the stretch to put up a worthy challenge.
Thompson wore his big boy pants to carry the wounded Barangay through his very own sheer of force only to fall short in end game. The do-it-all guard almost went on a personal rampage in the clutch, spearheading a run that put Ginebra to within six, 85-79, with about 40 ticks left and three, 85-82, after a Kevin Ferrer triple before running out of time.
The former NCAA MVP scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, even notching a double-double with 13 rebounds on top of four assists and three steals.
Aguilar followed suit despite the foul trouble. He tallied 21 points, nine boards and three assists in a losing cause. Ferrer had 11 markers while LA Tenorio added 10 before being benched in the fourth.
On the other hand, usual gunners Jeff Chan and Matthew Wright along with veteran William Wilson took turns in keeping Phoenix afloat. Each scored 19 and made significant contribution on the defensive end. Rookie Jason Perkins chipped in 12 points and five boards.
PHOENIX 87 - W. Wilson 19, Chan 19, Wright 19, Perkins 12, Revilla 6, Mendoza 4, Alolino 4, Kramer 2, Jazul 2, Intal 0, Chua 0, Guevarra 0.
BARANGAY GINEBRA 82 - Thompson 22, J. Aguilar 21, Ferrer 11, Tenorio 10, Cruz 6, Caguioa 6, Mariano 3, R. Aguilar 3, Mercado 0, Taha 0, Jamito 0, J. Wilson 0.
Quarters: 15-19, 49-29, 75-53, 87-82
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