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PBA: Toothless no more

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Is Phelps the next Great One?

Is Eugene Phelps the real deal?

The new import of Phoenix Fuel exploded for 52 points to lead the Fuel Masters to their first victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

That led to some serious questions.

The offensive production of Phelps was the highest for a debuting import since Purefoods reinforcement Darius Rice fired 56 points during the 2008 Fiesta Cup, and the first 50-point game since Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Orlando Johnson scored 50 in last season’s Governors’ Cup.

After a few games, Purefoods decided to replace Rice – a nephew of NFL star receiver Jerry Rice – as teams were able to find ways to limit his scoring as it signed Moroccan Reda Rhalimi.

As for Johnson, he did average nearly 35 points with 11.25 rebounds per game but he would only go as far as leading Ginebra to the quarterfinals as the eighth-seeded team as they lost to twice-to-beat No. 1 Alaska in the playoffs.

In the history of the PBA, there were imports that sustained their offensive onslaught in almost every game, including the late Bobby Parks, owner of league record seven Best Import awards with career averages of 40.5 points and 15.2 rebounds.

Other imports, who made their mark in scoring, include Billy Ray Bates, the No. 1 scoring import all-time with 46.2 points, Norman Black, who before taking a career in coaching, played 13 seasons and averaged 40.2 points, and Tony Harris, record holder for most points in a game with 105 in 1992.

For the 26-year-old Phelps, he said that it’s important for him to perform consistently, not only in scoring but his all-around play as Phoenix aim for a playoff berth this conference.

“Hopefully we can build on this win,” said Phelps, who replaced the ineffective Marcus Simmons, after Phoenix defeated Globalport, 120-107, to improve its record to 1-3 while the Batang Pier fell to 0-4.

Phelps, nicknamed “Megatron” and “El Destructor” playing in the pro league in Puerto Rico and Mexico, proved to be a dominant force particularly inside the lane as he when 18-of-30 from the field.

According to Phelps, who suffered a busted lip and lost his front tooth from an inadvertent elbow from Globalport import Michael Glover, it’s important for his teammates to step up and make the outside shots as teams will try to double-team him.

But first Phoenix needs to have Phelps’ tooth and lower lip fixed.

“I’d probably get an implant or something,” he said.

With his performance agaisnt Globalport, that would be the least team management can do for him.

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