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Phoenix stays alive in playoff hunt with win vs. Alaska

Matthew Wright came close to a triple-double for the Fuel Masters. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Phoenix returned to its winning ways just in time for a late playoff push in the PBA Governors' Cup by taking down Alaska, 104-99 on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Fuel Masters denied the Aces formal entry to the quarterfinals while keeping their own hopes of making it to the next round alive.

However, the game ended on a tense note.

Thinking about the quotient rule, Phoenix coach Topex Robinson still called for a timeout with three seconds left and the outcome was already decided.

Although Matthew Wright missed a fadeaway jumper at the final buzzer, Alaska mentor Jeffrey Cariaso did not appreciate the late timeout and quickly headed for the locker room without shaking his hand to Robinson.

The endgame drama overshadowed the Fuel Masters' successful efforts to keep their poise despite almost losing a 15-point lead.

Wright finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, and one steal for Phoenix, which moved up to the seventh place in the standings at 5-5, snapping a three-game losing streak.

The team could formally clinch a playoff seat if it beats Meralco on March 11, the final day of the elimination round.

Jason Perkins added 22 points on 8-for-13 field goals including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

Du'Vaughn Maxwell made a good impression in his first PBA game, putting up a 20-20 with 21 markers on 9-of-15 field goals and 21 boards with three dimes and two blocks.

RJ Jazul also put up 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting featuring four triples with three rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Olu Ashaolu made 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and one block for Alaska, which fell to 6-4, also hurting its chances of clinching a twice-to-beat advantage entering the next round.

Alaska has another shot at formally clinching a quarterfinal spot in its final elimination round game against Magnolia on Sunday night.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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