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PBA: Phoenix off to hot start

Games Tomorrow
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Meralco vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – GlobalPort vs Rain or Shine

Markieth Cummings (3) of Kia Picanto drives against Eugene Phelps (4) of the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Phoenix won, 118-105 .(MB photo | Czar Dancel)

Markieth Cummings (3) of Kia Picanto drives against Eugene Phelps (4) of the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Phoenix won, 118-105 .(MB photo | Czar Dancel)

Import Eugene Phelps picked up where he left off as Phoenix bucked the absence of Gilas Pilipinas mainstay Matthew Wright to outclass Kia, 118-105, yesterday to kick off the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Phelps finished with 33 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in 35 minutes despite dealing with an injured finger he sustained in a recent stint in Puerto Rico and cramps that saw him sit out the last five minutes to help the Fuel Masters begin their bid for a breakthrough semifinal appearance on a bright note.

His opening day explosion was a fitting follow-up to his 53-point, 21-rebound performance against Blackwater in the Commissioner’s Cup before heading to Puerto Rico.

Phelps, however, lasted just four games in the Caribbean due to his injury, prompting him to make an early return to Manila to reunite with Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia and the rest of his teammates.

“He’s getting there,” said Vanguardia. “We had a long preseason with him because of his injury, he had mild cramps earlier but I think he’ll adjust to his minutes and we know what Eugene can give up.”

Phelps got significant help from the locals who played without Wright, who is in Taipei playing for Gilas in the William Jones Cup.

JC Intal scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, RJ Jazul had 18 points, four rebounds and three assists and Joseph Eriobu and Cyrus Baguio added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Fuel Masters led for most of the way, but the Picanto, who was receiving instructions mostly from consultant Joe Lipa Chris Gavina despite the presence of designated coach Manny Pacquiao and lead assistant Chris Gavina, closed in at 65-62 in the third on a three-pointer by Bong Galanza.

First Game
PHOENIX 118 – Phelps 33, Intal 19, Jazul 18, Eriobu 12, Baguio 11, Dehesa 9, Alolino 8, W. Wilson 4, Kramer 2, J. Wilson 2, Lanete 0, Hayes 0, Borboran 0, Miranda 0.

KIA 105 – Cummings 31, Galanza 15, Jaime 11, Revilla 10, Paniamogan 9, Caperal 8, Khobuntin 7, Teng 5, Corpuz 4, Celda 3, Camson 2, Ballesteros 0, Elorde 0, Salva 0.

Quarters: 33-24; 57-48; 83-75; 118-105.

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