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(Batangay City Coliseum)
5 p.m. – TNT Katropa vs San Miguel
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs NLEX
6:45 p.m. – Meralco vs Star
Fuel Masters hand hard-luck Star 7th loss in 8 games.
Phoenix Fuel moved a step closer to earning its first playoff appearance by downing Star, 106-93, in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Phoenix import Eugene Phelps, who scored 52 points in his debut last July 31, exploded anew as he dropped 45, including 15 in the fourth quarter to help his team get a crucial victory.
Phelps, who averaged 38.25 points prior to the game, also hauled down 17 rebounds.
Three veterans of Phoenix also stepped up as Willie Wilson had a double-double effort with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Ronjay Buenafe and Cyrus Baguio had 11 points apiece.
The victory improved the record of the Fuel Masters to 4-4, and another win in its remaining three games will clinch for the team, which only joined the league this season after purchasing the Barako Bull franchise prior to the Commissioner’s Cup, a playoff spot.
“Slowly but surely the team in maturing. I’m just hoping that we’re peaking at the right time,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“By my own calculation, we need one more to get to the quarterfinal playoffs. But I’m just happy that we’re able to gut this out against Star – their back is against the wall.”
With the burly Phelps scoring 11 points in the first quarter, Phoenix dictated the game early as it took a 32-19 lead. The lead even ballooned to 20 points, 77-57, early in the third period.
Star, however, was able to close in at 77-72 entering the final frame. A two-handed slam by import Joel Wright capped a 19-0 run bridging the late stage of the third and early fourth frame that trimmed the deficit further, 77-76.
As for Star, the team dropped to 1-7 – tying Blackwater at the bottom of the standings – for its worst start in a conference in 14 years. The five straight defeats was the team’s longest in 11 years since the 2005 Fiesta Cup.
PHOENIX 106 – Phelps 45, Wilson W. 13, Baguio 11, Buenafe 11, Lee 8, Cruz 6, Lanete 4, Enciso 3, Urbiztondo 3, Miranda 2, Borboran 0, Caperal 0, Torres 0, Wilson J. 0.
STAR 93 – Wright 29, Barroca 12, Simon 11, Sangalang 8, Garcia 7, Yap 7, Maliksi 5, Brondial 4, Mallari 4, Melton 2, Pascual 2, Pingris 2, Reavis 0.
Quarters: 32-19, 56-47, 77-72, 106-93.