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Phoenix upends NLEX in first game of the year

Matt Wright was brilliant for the Fuel Masters. Denver Lachica
By JP Abcede

MANILA—The Phoenix Fuel Masters welcomed the new year with a win, beating the NLEX Road Warriors, 102-95, as the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup resumes.

Phoenix came back from 10 points down, 9-19, in the middle of the first period and went up by as many as 17, 90-73, after an RJ Jazul twinner, 11:01 of the fourth. The victors then held off a last-ditch rally by NLEX to hand the latter its first defeat of the conference, tying each other in the standings with a 2-1 win-loss record.

Matthew Wright topped the Fuel Masters with 19 points, shooting 7-of-16 from the field. He also had five rebounds and seven assists.

"We beat NLEX because they were not in shape in the last quarter," Wright said. "You can see that they tried to keep up with our tempo. We set the pace of the game. We take pride of being the best in-shape team."

Jeff Chan returned from sick bay to register 18 markers on 8-of-11 marksmanship, along with six boards and three dimes. Four others scored in double figures as Jazul finished with 15, Jason Perkins had 14, and Justin Chua came up with 12. Doug Kramer had a double-double performance with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

As a team, Phoenix lit up the hustle board with 12 steals and 22 second chance points, giving up ten turnovers.

Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila alums Larry Fonacier and Juami Tiongson combined for 34 points for NLEX. Both JR QuiƱahan and Michael Miranda clinched ten markers each.

This is the Fuel Masters' second straight victory after opening the season with a loss.