By JONAS TERRADO
Eugene Phelps delivered 50 points while Calvin Abueva made key plays in the dying seconds as Phoenix held off Columbian, 113-107, to open its campaign in the PBA Governors’ Cup on a high note at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Phelps, noticeably wearing a headband sporting colors of a luxury brand while attempting one-handed free throws, made 20 of his 32 shots on his way to his first 50-point game since dropping 53 on Blackwater in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup.
He also had 17 rebounds and eight blocks to complete a dominating showing that enabled the Fuel Masters to emerge victorious despite facing a scare in the final minutes.
Phoenix led 107-99 on a three by the struggling Matthew Wright with 3:25 to go in the fourth but Columbian eventually pull within two, 109-107, on import Akeem Wright’s triple, 1:20 remaining.
Dyip guard Jerramy King had a chance to tie the game but Abueva came from behind to block the shot. The new Fuel Master hauled down two offensive boards on the ensuing play before splitting two charities off a foul for 110-107.
Columbian’s Rashawn McCarthy turned the ball over after the timeout, resulting in rookie Jason Perkins sinking one of two foul shots to virtually seal the deal for Phoenix.
“Good thing we got a huge game from Eugene, then Calvin was being Calvin,” said Phoenix coach Louie Alas, disappointed with his team squandering an 18-point first quarter lead.
Abueva, acquired from Alaska in exchange for Karl Dehesa and a 2019 first round draft pick, finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in his first PBA appearance since May.
King scored 27 points and Wright delivered 25 points, 14 rebounds and four steals but the Dyip absorbed their second straight loss in the tournament.
PHOENIX 113 – Phelps 50, Abueva 12, Perkins 11, Intal 8, Jazul 7, Revilla 6, Wright 6, Chua 6, Mendoza 4, Gamboa 3, Eriobu 0.
COLUMBIAN 107 – King 27, Wright 25, McCarthy 19, Camson 12, Lastimosa 6, Escoto 3, Ababou 3, Tubid 3, Cahilig 3, Gabriel 2, Reyes 0, Cabrera 0, Celda 0, Sara 0.
Quarters: 31-17; 56-42; 84-79; 113-107.