|Jason Perkins fired a career-high 31 points for the Fuel Masters. PBA Media Group|
By Xy-Zha Cabanlong
PASAY--The Phoenix Fuel Masters flawlessly earned their spot in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the expense of the Alaska Aces with a 91-76 win on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
At tip-off, both the Aces and the Fuel Master tried to find their pace with a couple of lead changes early on.
The first quarter featured a play wherein Alaska tried to stay ahead of the Fuel Masters with a triple by JVee Casio with 1:30 remaining.
Calvin Abueva blurted the Aces' bubble by firing back a triple with 1:01 left to play, giving Phoenix the lead by a hair, 16-15.
The opening quarter had been the last time that Alaska was able to hold on to an edge over the Fuel Masters but they ended up trailing by three points, 15-18.
The second quarter told a different story as Chris Banchero got into early foul trouble, picking up his third foul as early as 9:26 left in the period.
In spite of the foul trouble, Alaska was able to tie the ball game at 30-all through the efforts of Simon Enciso.
But Jason Perkins had a different plan, scoring back-to-back field goals to help push Phoenix to safety at 36-30, with about four minutes left to play in the first half.
Perkins eventually exploded as he sank a three-pointer just before the game reached halftime.
His shot from behind the arc allowed the Fuel Masters to sail away further, 45-33.
The second half was rather a one-sided affair with only Phoenix's attempts at the basket capitalizing.
Perkins' hot hands continued in the third quarter scoring field goal after field goal.
Jake Pascual's infraction off Matthew Wright's attempt from beyond the rainbow line earned the latter a trip to the free throw line which Wright flawlessly converted, giving Phoenix a 66-49 edge over Alaska, 2:12 left to play in the quarter.
The Fuel Masters outwitted the Aces, limiting them to only 14 points at the third quarter compared to their 25.
The start of the final salvo proved that Phoenix was just playing for the final score, giving Alaska chances to score.
Casio, Enciso and Teng took turns in the field goal but Perkins, alongside Revilla and Abueva, kept scoring too.
Perkins emerged as the best player of the ballgame with a career-high of 31 points. He also had an impressive 11-of-15 field goals including 8-of-9 from the three-point area.
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