Phoenix bucked the first quarter ejection of star forward Mac Belo and the stubborn challenge of tail-ender Blustar Detergent to escape with a 97-94 victory yesterday for its fourth straight win in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Mike Tolomia’s jumper broke a 92-all tie with 31 seconds left before the rest of the Accelerators foiled the Malaysian-flavored Dragons from scoring an upset victory to gain a momentary hold of the top spot in the seven-team, double-round elimination tournament.
Defending champion CaféFrance can restore the joint tie for first if it beats Tanduay in their game being played at presstime.
Tolomia finished with 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting even as Ed Daquioag topscored with 25 markers for Phoenix, which lost Belo with 10 seconds left in the opening period for a Flagrant Foul 2 on Blustar’s Chun Hong Ting.
Former Ateneo playmaker and ex-pro Juami Tiongson led all scorers with 34 points in his debut for Blustar, which gave Phoenix a run for its money after losing by an average of 19 points in its first two games against Tanduay and CaféFrance.
Behind Tiongson and center Tian Yuan Kuek, Blustar, a team composed of players from the ASEAN Basketball League champion Westports Malaysia Dragons, even led by five points in the third quarter behind Tolomia and Daquioag.
But Blustar tied the score at 92-all when Tiongson scored a reverse layup, setting the stage for Tolomia’s go-ahead jumper.
Raymon Jamito added 19 markers for Phoenix. Kuek finished with 21 points and nine boards for Blustar.