By REYNALD MAGALLON
Phoenix rose from the ashes and snapped a three-game slide, fending off a pesky Terrafirma, 104-92, in the PBA on Tour at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Friday, June 23.
The Fuel Masters got crucial contributions from Chris Lalata and Reden Celda who both starred in the telling 9-0 run in the final frame to avert a huge collapse and improve the team’s record to an even 3-3 slate even in the absence of head coach Jamike Jarin.
Celda topscored for Phoenix with 19 points while Lalata, who provided a huge lift for his team with seven fourth quarter points, finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Javee Mocon added 13 points while Simon Camacho and Larry Muyang chipped in with 12 and 11, respectively.
Phoenix, though, couldn’t sustain its blistering performance in the middle quarters which allowed it to build a comfortable 24-point lead, 91-67, early in the final frame.
Terrafirma, which was without its leader in Juami Tiongson, unleashed a fiery 20-2 run to cut the lead down to just six, 87-93.
The Dyip threatened to turn the tables after making it 90-95, but the last-ditch effort proved the closest they could get as the Fuel Masters behind Celda, Lalata and Jjay Alejandro connived in the deciding rally.
Meantime, Magnolia gave NorthPort a harsh reality check following a dominant, 125-89 victory to stretch its winning streak to six.
The Hotshots simply outclassed the Batang Pier on both ends of the floor, building a sizeable margin which they never relinquished until the final buzzer to remain unbeaten so far in the preseason exhibition games.
It was a total team effort for Magnolia as the Hotshots attacked from all angles – from inside the paint and beyond the arc – with guys like Jerrick Ahanmisi, James Laput and Joseph Eriobu taking turns in punishing the Batang Pier.
Ahamisi led the way in scoring finishing with 23 points while Eriobu and Laput finished with 16 and 15 points respectively.
NorthPort actually kept in step with Magnolia in the opening frame before the Hotshots created some separation with a 16-5 run to close out the first half and take a 53-41 lead at the break.
The Batang Pier tried to hang around in the third frame but the Hotshots who exploded for 30 points in the third quarter was simply too hot to handle and further padded the lead which went to as many as 39 points in the final period.