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Phoenix battles all odds to stay alive against Beermen

Calvin Abueva's double-double helped Phoenix score a semis win. PBA Media Group
By Xy-Zha Cabanlong

MANILA—For Coach Louie Alas and the rest of his wards at the Phoenix Fuel Masters, to stay alive in the semis series against the San Miguel Beermen is a must regardless of how tough it is.

Their 92-90 victory over the Beermen at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City was hard-fought amidst all the odds that they have to go through the entire ball game.

The Fuel Masters started strong with an 8-0 run.

However, they suffered an early blow as Jason Perkins got into foul trouble after being called for offensive foul three consecutive times in the first quarter. 

As if that is not too much for their taking, Dave Marcelo was sent out of the game as he was slapped with an flagrant foul penalty two with 10:22 left in the second quarter.

Assistant Coach Topex Robinson was also warned for continuous complaining off Marcelo's infringement. 

It took the entire first quarter and most the second quarter for MVP June Mar Fajardo to have his name listed at the scoresheet.

It was Alex Cabagnot who had step in for the Beermen and score in the absence of Fajardo.

In spite the efforts of the Beermen to take the lead, they trailed against the Fuel Masters at the end of the first half; 36-40.

The third quarter told a different story, with a relentless Beermen coming off the locker room more willing to win it all and give themselves a flawless lead in the semis series. 

Beginning with a triple which Cabagnot fired with 9:09 remaining in the third, the Beermen came closer and closer. 

Back to back baskets by Fajardo cuts the lead of the Fuel Masters to just 5; 41-46 with 8:37 left in the third.

A split free throw by Christian Standhardinger tied the ball game at 56 apiece with 3:21 left to play. 

Chris Ross' triple with only 30 seconds left to play set the pace for San Miguel. It paved the way for them to go ahead of Phoenix, 65-63.

The Beermen finally took control of the game at the end of three quarters, 66-64 off the split free throw by Terrence Romeo.

A deadlock opened the final salvo of the ball game with Justin Chua scoring off a miss from beyond the arc by Alex Mallari, making it 66-all.

With only 3:32 left to play, Perkins fouled out, allowing San Miguel to take advantage of it and created chances to lead against Phoenix.

Romeo was able to succeed in giving the game another deadlock at 84-all through his free throw with only 2:18 left.

However, Justin Chua brought the lead back to the Fuel Masters just before the 2-minute mark, giving Phoenix an 84-86 advantage.

The Beermen took its last effort to come close in winning with Fajardo's split free throw off Abueva's foul with 1:30 to play.

Matt Wright had also been an important figure for Phoenix in the dying seconds of the ball game as he scored the last six points for the Fuel Masters from the free throw area, off from back to back fouls from Chris Ross and earning Romeo's last foul that sent him off the game.

Ross on the other hand says it is not over until it is over and scored the final point for the Beermen; 90-92 with 15 seconds left in the game.

Calvin Abueva emerged as the best player of the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.

The scores:

Phoenix 92 - Abueva 18, Wright 18, Chua 15, Jazul 14, Perkins 8, Intal 8, Kramer 5, Revilla 4, Mallari 2, Napoles 0, Mendoza 0, Dennison 0, Guevarra 0.

San Miguel 90 - Fajardo 22, Cabagnot 18, Romeo 16, Standhardinger 16, Ross 8, Pessumal 3, Santos 3, Rosser 2, Nabong 2, Zamar 0, Tubid 0.

Quarterscores: 21-19, 40-36, 64-66, 92-90.

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