By Olmin Leyba
(Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig)
3 p.m. – NorthPort vs. NLEX
6 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs. Alaska
PHOENIX 103 – Harris 24, Perkins 18, Banchero 18, Wright 17, Jazul 9, Muyang 6, Manganti 4, Garcia 3, Pascual 2, Chua 2, Melecio 0, Tamsi 0, Rios 0.
TERRAFIRMA 100 – Hester 28, Tiongson 20, Cabagnot 12, Ramos 9, Cahilig 8, Adams 6, Rosser 5, Celda 5, Gabayni 3, Camson 2, Pascual 2, Batiller 0, Balagasay 0.
Quarterscores: 30-25, 42-52, 67-77, 103-100.
PHOENIX Super LPG unleashed a strong finishing kick to steal a thrilling 103-100 victory over a fading Terrafirma side for a 1-0 start in the 46th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup yesterday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Nearly counted out after trailing by as many as 17 points, the Fuel Masters rose from the ashes and turned things around with a 36-23 exchange in the final 12 minutes.
Phoenix’ second unit Larry Muyang, RJ Jazul and RR Garcia first provided the spark for the gutsy fightback then Matthew Wright and import Paul Harris took over for the coup de grace.
Mr. Wright fired 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a triple that knotted the count at 91-91, plus 10 assists. He had a big steal and assist that led to Chris Banchero’s transition basket that gave Phoenix a 100-94 lead with 2:14 left.
Mr. Harris made three free throws in the homestretch to keep the Dyip at bay and finished with 24 markers and 15 rebounds.
Jason Perkins and Mr. Banchero also contributed heavily on offense with 18 apiece.
“Coach Topex (Robinson) just kept telling us to battle through it (despite facing a double-digit deficit at the start of the fourth),” said Mr. Wright.
“Terrafirma is a good team. They came out and surprised us a little bit but we’re able to lock down defensively, play defense and that’s it,” he added.
The Fuel Masters’ stifling defense forced Terrafirma to eight turnovers in the final canto, which they converted to 15 points. Phoenix also dominated the boards in the final 12 minutes, 16-9, en route to 13 second-chance points.
Mr. Wright and his teammates spoiled the Terrafirma debut of former San Miguel Beer star Alex Cabagnot, who had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and import Antonio Hester who had 28-16-4.
Mr. Cabagnot earlier joined forces with Mr. Hester and Juami Tiongson as the Dyip took command in the second period after outscoring the Fuel Masters, 27-12.
The trio combined for 18 markers in that period, where Terrafirma led by as many as 14 after choking Phoenix to a 25% shooting (4-of-16) and scoring 15 points off the opponent’s 11 turnovers. The Dyip widened the gap to 67-50 in the third and held a 77-67 lead to start the fourth.
Meanwhile, NLEX and Alaska shoot for their second consecutive victories today against separate opponents.
The Road Warriors, who stunned San Miguel Beer in Wednesday’s opener, 114-102, seek a follow-up against NorthPort (0-1) at 3 p.m.
For their part, the Aces, 87-85 victor over the Batang Pier, aim to make it back-to-back versus the Beermen (0-1) at 6 p.m.