Just like their Philippine Cup encounter, Phoenix and Blackwater figured in a classic
The Phoenix Fuel Masters needed two grueling extra periods to edge out Blackwater Elite, 118-116, in their 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup opener on Saturday afternoon at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
“It was a well-played game,” said Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia with their win, which gives them a 1-0 record in the team standings.
Eugene Phelps was clearly dominant in his second tour of duty for Phoenix, posting a monstrous new career-high of 53 points on 19-of-32 shooting along with 21 rebounds.
“We know what Eugene can give us,” lauded Vanguardia. “He gives us all his effort. He’s not El Destructor for nothing.”
Phoenix were able to pull out the win even without top rookie Matthew Wright due to a foot injury, and Vanguardia hopes he will be able to play on Wednesday against Star.
“Matthew Wright will be practicing on Monday. He’ll be a game time decision on Wednesday,” claimed Vanguardia.
The Fuel Masters were ahead by 10, 85-75, early in the final frame, but the Elite hit a hot streak behind Greg Smith, Mac Belo, and Mike DiGregorio to turn the deficit into a two-point advantage, 100-98, with 1:05 to go in regulation.
A Phelps and-one bucket sent it to a 100-all knot with 49.3 seconds left. He had a chance to put Phoenix up by one, but his bonus missed. Luckily for them, Smith missed a potential game-winning jumper, sending the game to OT.
Phoenix started strong in the first OT. With Phelps converting a three-point play, they led Blackwater, 108-104, with 1:57 to go. However, Denok Miranda’s charities and a Smith hook shot after a Baguio lay-up sent it to another OT, 110-all.
The Elite were gassed out come the final overtime. With two straight miscues, Phoenix then went on an 8-3 run ended by a Phelps hook shot to lead by five, 118-113, with 40.3 seconds to go. Roi Sumang hit a trey, 118-116, but could not convert any more as he air-balled his jumper.
“We played two tight tune-up games [in the off-season]. At least we found a way to win,” said Vanguardia.
JC Intal supplied 11 points for Phoenix despite going 5-of-19 from the floor. Willie Wilson and Cyrus Baguio each chipped in 10 markers.
The Elite were led by former Houston Rocket Greg Smith with a 30-30 game, scoring 37 points on 14-of-25 shooting along with 30 rebounds. Mac Belo backed him up with 21 markers and eight boards.
As a team, Blackwater out-rebounded Phoenix, 71-60. But the Elite had issues with turnovers, committing 24 that allowed the Fuel Masters to convert 32 points. Phoenix’s bench also played better, providing 41 points in their output.
Blackwater fall to 0-7 overall.
Both teams will see action on Wednesday, March 22, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Blackwater will clash with Alaska at 4:15 PM, whole Phoenix will battle Star at 7:00 PM.
Phoenix (118) – Phelps 53, Intal 11, Baguio 10, W. Wilson 10, Alolino 9, Jazul 8, Borboran 8, J. Wilson 4, Lanete 2, Miranda 2, Kramer 2, Dehesa 0, Eriobu 0.
Blackwater (116) – Smith 37, Belo 21, Digregorio 13, Sumang 11, Pascual 8, Sena 7, Gamalinda 7, Miranda 6, Ababou 3, Forrester 0, Pinto 0, Cervantes 0, Aguilar 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 38-45, 76-75, 100-100, 118-116