A complacent Phoenix team dug deep in its bag of tricks to stave off a slowly peaking Blustar Detergent Dragons.
The Accelerators struggled to breathe their usual fire before finding the dose late to tame the Dragons’ upset bid, 97-94, in the PBA D-League Foundations Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, Monday afternoon.
With the early loss of versatile forward Mac Belo, who was ejected in the first quarter after a Flagrant 2 infraction, the Accelerators showed lack of aggressiveness in offense that the Malaysian cagers exploited, managing to stay within 1-2 possession.
Ed Daquiaog imposed his will in the crunchtime, scoring 13 of his 25 points but it was Mike Tolomia that saved the day for the reigning Aspirants Cup champs as he nailed a clutch jumper with 31.9 seconds remaining to gain the lead, 94-92.
“Kaninang halftime, sabi ko hindi ko nakikita yung Phoenix na kilala ko last conference, you better check your heart kasi sobrang complacent natin,” said head coach Eric Gonzalez, whose team remained on top of the standing with a 4-0 record.
“That’s something we need to guard on and work on, yung fire sa game ,” he added.
Tolomia chipped in 20 while hardworking forward Raymon Jamito finished with 19 in the close encounter with the visiting Malaysian squad.
The Dragons even took a 7-point lead early in the 3rd quarter before essaying a 6-0 mini run down the stretch , led by Filipino guard Juami Tiongson, who lifted Blustar in his debut with 34 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
Still with a chance to take the game to overtime, Tiongson’s last heave went air ball, leaving the Dragons still winless in 3 games. – By Jason Mercene
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