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Phoenix holds Converge to 8-year 1st half low, keeps slim playoff hopes alive

Jason Perkins showed his might anew for the Fuel Masters. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Phoenix gave Converge a first half to forget on Saturday night en route to scoring an 89-66 blowout win in their PBA Philippine Cup meeting on Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

A night after the NLEX Road Warriors held the Blackwater Bossing to a PBA-record-tying two-point first quarter, it was the Fuel Masters' turn to play early shutdown defense, limiting the FiberXers to only 20 first-half points.

According to Chief Statistician Fidel Mangonon, this was the lowest first-half output in eight years and tied the 13th worst first-half performance in league history.

From there, Phoenix continued to exert its dominance on Converge.

Matthew Wright made 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals to lead the Fuel Masters, who now need to beat Barangay Ginebra on Thursday night and hope that the FiberXers, NorthPort Batang Pier, and Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters, 97-82 winners over the Terrafirma Dyip in the first game, struggle in their own remaining games to get a chance to make the quarterfinals.

Jason Perkins added 14 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block.

Abu Tratter and Tyrus Hill each tallied nine markers for Converge, which still has a chance to make the quarterfinals outright but has to beat Blackwater on Wednesday and hope too for favorable results from the other teams in the playoff hunt.

According to Mangonon, the last time a team was held to 20 points in the first half was on Nov. 14, 2014, when the Bossing were held to the said number of points by the Alaska Aces, interestingly enough the team the FiberXers acquired to enter the PBA.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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