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White sizzles in Phoenix debut as team repulses Blackwater

James White soars over Poy Erram. PBA Media Bureau
By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--James White announced his PBA return via a resounding 31-point game that powered Phoenix Petroleum to a 107-102 win over Blackwater on the second play date of the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.

The Fuel Masters actually squandered a huge 22-point lead but survived largely behind the courage and fortitude shown by White at the finish.

The wiry 6-foot-7 import bucked inroads of cramps and delivered clutch plays that saved the day for the Fuel Masters against the Blackwater side that came alive in the fourth quarter.

White, with previous PBA stints with Kia (now Columbian Dyip), made eight points in the fourth quarter, including a put-back that eventually settled the outcome of the game at 105-101.

"His hamstring was starting to get tight. Inilalabas ko na, pero sabi niya I will not let our team lose because of this hamstring," said Phoenix coach Louie Alas.

"Hard win, but we'll take it. The team showed a good character in the end," Alas also said.

The Elite themselves showed a good character in a fiery chase in the fourth quarter after trailing by big margins through the first three quarters.

They caught up at twice at 95 and at 98, but just couldn't get over the hump.

In the end, they reeled to a second straight loss after a shattering 98-126 defeat at the hands of Columbian Dyip on Sunday.

Matthew Wright, Justin Chua, Jeff Chan and Willy Wilson all contributed double-digit outputs as the Fuel Masters got to a triumphant start in the tourney coming from a ninth-place finish in the Philippine Cup.

But they nearly bungled the game.

"Yan ang problema namin from last conference. Di naman maituturo ang toughness. Tuwing lalabas ang import namin, bumababa ang lamang namin," rued Alas.

"Pero habang dumadami ang laro, makukuha rin yan," he added.

The Elite banked on the three-point shooting of Roi Sumang, Mac Belo and Mike DiGregorio as they got into the fight at 79-80 after trailing by as many as 22 at 20-42.

The Fuel Masters regained control at 90-83 on a 10-4 tear by White, Chan and Wright before the Elite again wheeled back into the game.

Blackwater eventually pulled even at 95-all on a booming trey by Belo.

The Elite strung up seven three-pointers in all in the fourth quarter but the Fuel Masters just won't be denied in the end.

The scores:

PHOENIX 107 - White 31, Wright 19, Chua 17, Chan 11, Wilson W. 10, Jazul 9, Mendoza 3, Revilla 3, Perkins 2, Kramer 2, Eriobu 0.

BLACKWATER 102 - Sumang 20, Belo 19, Famous 19, Digregorio 11, Maliksi 11, Palma 7, Jose 6, Erram 6, Pinto 3, Marcelo 0, Sena 0.

Quarters: 31-17, 56-40, 75-69, 107-102.

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