PHOENIX further extended Alaska’s miseries.
Import Eugene Phelps drove hard to the basket and scored the game winner at the buzzer, 95-93, as the Fuel Masters dealt the Aces yet another blow in the PBA Governors Cup Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Phelps’ heroics came just after Chris Banchero scored on a startling one-hander, off-balance shot to tie the game for the last time, 93-all, setting up the down-the-wire finish.
The prolific import was quickly mobbed by his teammates just after he made the basket while proudly showing off with both hands his Fuel Masters jersey to the delirious Phoenix crowd.
“It was like a playoff game,” quipped Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia following the Fuel Masters’ second straight win in four days that tied them for the early lead with surprising NLEX Road Warriors.
This marked the first time Phoenix has a 2-0 start in its young franchise.
The same can’t be said about Alaska. The Aces fell to an 0-2 record to share the bottom with KIA Picanto, although their losing streak dates from as far back as April 2 or a losing stretch of 10 games.
Despite flu-stricken, Phelps exploded for 29 points and 14 rebounds.
RJ Jazul also struck a dagger right on the heart of Alaska, his former team, after nailing a clutch three-pointer off a pick by Phelps, to put Phoenix back on top, 93-91, with 29 seconds to go.
The former Letran guard, dealt to Phoenix for young playmaker Simon Enciso, finished with 15 points including 4 of 5 from downtown, five rebounds, and five assists.
Rookie Joseph Eriobu came up with a double-double for Phoenix with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while John Wilson added 13.
“We give credit to Alaska,” he added. “They really make us play better.”
The Aces did.
Staring at an 86-76 deficit entering the homestretch, the Aces got their acts together and pulled off a 13-2 run to take the upperhand, 89-88, on a jumper from the foul line by Noy Baclao with 1:09 left.
JC Intal countered with a beautiful reverse at the other end, before La Donate Henton answered for Alaska with a tip to give the team its last taste of the lead, 91-90.
Henton led the Aces with 30 points and 10 boards, while Enciso torched his former team for 17 points including five three-pointers. (JR)
BARANGAY Ginebra kicks off its PBA Governors Cup title defense the way it ended last season.
The Kings battle the Meralco Bolts on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s finals as they formally put into motion their bid for a back-to-back championship in the season-ending conference.
Nothing much has changed between the two teams since the league’s crowd favorite won the title series, 4-2, after a clutch, game-winning three-pointer by import Justine Brownlee at the buzzer clinched it for the Kings. Brownlee is again back for another tour of duty for the team, so is Allen Durham, last year’s Best Import awardee, for the Bolts.
If there’s any difference, Barangay Ginebra will parade anew returning big man Greg Slaughter in the 6:30 p.m. encounter. The 7-foot center out of Ateneo sat out last year’s title series as he recuperates and rehabilitates from an ACL injury he suffered during the mid-season.
Meralco no longer has veteran point guard Jimmy Alapag – who has since assumed an assistant coaching job with the franchise – around, but witnessed the coming out party of sophomore guard Baser Amer this year.
The former San Beda star was again at the forefront in Meralco’s 107-78 rout of Blackwater Friday night, finishing with a team-high 20 points to complement the 18-point, 21-rebound effort of Durham.
The Bolts also unleashed new acquisition Garvo Lanete – a teammate of Amer with the Red Lions – who rose to the occasion by contributing 15 points.
“It’s exactly the type of start we hoped for,” said coach Norman Black of the win heading to the Ginebra game.
Black said he has no problem with Meralco not being mentioned among the top contenders this conference despite what the franchise achieved in this very same tournament a year ago.
He considers the Kings and the grand slam-seeking San Miguel Beermen as the two teams favored to win championship.
\"They’re (Kings and Beermen) two very good teams so they deserve whatever spotlight they get,” said the multi-titled mentor. “We’re just trying to win games just like everybody else.”
THE transformation may not yet be complete for NLEX, but it\'s still enough for the team to rack up some wins.
Dodging some major second-half collapses the Road Warriors came out a 100-93 victor over Kia Saturday to grab the solo lead in the PBA Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Aaron Fuller scattered 24 points and hauled down a game-high 19 rebounds and joined hands with Kevin Alas and JR Quinahan in the endgame that prevented NLEX from fully blowing as much as a 27-point lead.
Alas, Carlo Lastimosa and Quinahan each wound up with at least 11 points as the Road Warriors followed up their 112-104 win over Alaska to break off from a tie with fellow opening day winner Phoenix, Meralco and Rain or Shine.
In all, the win was NLEX\'s fourth straight since winding up the Commissioner\'s Cup with back-to-back victories and coach Yeng Guiao said the roll is something that should serve them in good stead in the long run.
\"It\'s a nice feeling to be putting together streaks,\" said Guiao, whose team finished dead-last in each of the two conferences under his watch.
\"I think the confidence level is getting better,\" added Guiao. \"We\'re really excited before this game to just keep playing because we know there\'s something good that\'s really happening within the team. We feel the transformation from our previous mentality.\"
Guiao himself fueled Kia\'s last fight back by getting slapped with two technicals that caused his ejection, still 4:13 left, but in the end those converted charities hardly mattered.
Despite dropping its second game in as many outings Kia still gave NLEX one big scare, going on a 14-0 run in the third quarter to trim the difference to just 12 points, and mustering a 12-2 surge in the fourth to pull within 86-92, still 3:00 left.
But Alas scored on a layup, Fuller on a putback and Quinahan on two charities that gave NLEX a 98-88 cushion.
Markeith Cummings capped a 30-point, 15-rebound performance with five straight points, but there were only 14 seconds left and Alas sealed the outcome with two charities.
Former NLEX player Glenn Khobuntin added 15 points and Chito Jaime 13 for Kia, which looked ready to give up the ghost after digging itself a deep hole early, only to come charging back to life despite the absence of ailing playmaker LA Revilla.
Philip Paniamogan, Reden Celda and Nico Elorde joined hands with Khobuntin took turns helping Cummings bring the Picanto back in the game but the task of overhauling a 40-64 halftime deficit and a 51-78 count proved too much.
TAIPEI – The Gilas Pilipinas lesser lights got extensive minutes against a lowly Asian rival, and showed readiness for the coming SEA Games with their contribution in their 101-70 rout of India in the penultimate day of the 2017 Jones Cup here on Saturday.
Almond Vosotros, Von Pessumal, Ed Daquiaog and Cris Tolomia, who hardly saw action in their previous games here, made good use of the minutes given them against the Indians, helping Team Phl breeze through to a fifth win against three losses.
Vosotros, Pessumal, Tolomia, along with Matthew Wright and Carl Bryan Cruz, combined for 17 three-pointers to highlight Gilas’ conquest of India, a traditional whipping boy to many in Asian basketball.
It’s a big turnaround for the Nationals from the last time where they’re the ones torched by the Lithuanians with their fiery shooting.
Vosotros and Pessumal combined for 8-of-17 three-pointers and made a total of 14 points each while Ed Daquiaog and Tolomia chipped in eight markers apiece.
“It’s a great testament to our other players who don’t get too much playing time to constantly be ready, and come in and play well in this ball game,” said Reyes, agreeing their performance spoke well for the coming SEA Games.
“One of the big objectives in our Jones Cup participation is the preparation for the SEA Games. Von (Pessumal) and Almond (Vosotros) are integral parts of the SEA Games team and same thing with Fonzo Gotladera, Mike Tolomia and Toto Jose. Those guys are very important for SEA Games, and it’s important that they get minutes,” Reyes pointed out.
Pessumal and Cruz came out firing to fuel Gilas’ breakaway from a 27-24 count at the start of the second quarter.
Cruz came through with a 3-of-7 three-point shooting while Wright sizzled with a perfect 5-of-5 clip.
Mike Myers, Christian Standhardinger and Kiefer Ravena played limited minutes in Gilas’ lightest game in the tourney.
But even when Gilas has blown the game open, the Nationals stuck to running their dribble-drive offense.
“The central theme for us is this game is respect. We wanted to make sure we respect the opponent, the way they play and respect the game. We wanted to come out with an effort to show we respect India and the ball game,” said Reyes.
AFTER coming up just short in each of the first two conferences this season Star wants to go all the way this time.
But first the Hotshots must get off to a good start, which they aim to do when they take on a Blackwater crew aiming for a big rebound Sunday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite, who have finished near the bottom in their first eight conferences with the league, launched their own bid for redemption with a sorry 78-107 loss to Meralco last Friday in a game where they got dominated for majority of the contest.
Blackwater coming up with its A-game and pulling the rug from under Star are not too far-fetched, according to Hotshots coach Chito Victolero himself.
\"We know naman the capability of each team and Blackwater can spring a surprise like it has done in the past,\" said Victolero, whose side could not go past the semifinals in their first two conferences together.
\"Kaya I keep reminding the players na hindi p\'wedeng i-let down namin ang guard namin. We should always be on our toes against a very dangerous team like Blackwater na ngayon may extra motivation pa to bounce back from their loss.\"
Key for Star should be on how its locals, having to make do with Gilas player Jio Jalalon and the injured Marc Pingris, give import Cinmeon Bowers the much-needed support.
Bowers, a 240-lb power forward out of Auburn who has seen action in Israel and Puerto Rico, is a defense-oriented banger who can also operate from both inside and the perimeter on the offensive end.
Blackwater has its own concerns about reinforcement Trevis Simpson.
Relatively short at 6-2 and lighter, Simpson notched 25 points and eight rebounds in his PBA debut but scored most of his points against Meralco in the second half when the game was already beyond the Elite\'s reach.
Worse, only Bambam Gamalinda was able to backstop Simpson with 10 points as the likes of Mike Digregorio, KG Canaleta, Reil Cervantes and Reil Cervantes struggled, resulting in the Elite shooting 0-for-13 from beyond the arc.
That simple wouldn\'t do against a Star crew that boasts of Allein Maliksi, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, Aldrech Ramos and Ian Sangalang, among others.