Phoenix import Eugene Phelps engineered his team’s second-half surge as the Fuel Masters rolled past the woeful Blackwater, 93-81 to practically assure themselves of a spot in the PBA Governors Cup playoffs on Wednesday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The wide-bodied Phelps banged in 29 points, hauled down 26 rebounds and issued four assists for the Fuel Masters, who continued their steady rise in the standings after a 0-2 start.
The Elite became the first team to bow out of the playoff race their seventh straight loss to drop to a tournament-worst 1-8 overall.
“We’ll take this win. It wasn’t a quality game for us because it’s the lowest assist total we had, but hulog ng langit yung import namin,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.
Forward Mark Borboran added 15 points and six rebounds, while young playmaker Simon Enciso fired 10 of his 12 points in the final period to help Phoenix quell Blackwater’s last-gasp rally.
Not even the entry of new import Keala King could prevent Blackwater from dropping out of the playoffs.
King, once a top US high school recruit, who played college basketball for Arizona State, Long Beach State and University of Pikeville in Kentucky, had a rough PBA debut, finishing with just 14 points.
The southpaw King also added eight rebounds, but was limited to just 28 minutes of action after running into foul trouble in the second half. – John Bryan Ulanday
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Phoenix 93 – Phelps 29, Borboran 15, Enciso 12, Baguio 10, Buenafe 8, W. Wilson 7, Urbiztondo 6, Caperal 3, Cruz 2, Pennisi 1, Lee 0, Lanete 0, J. Wilson 0, Miranda 0.
Blackwater 81 – Dela Cruz 18, Lastimosa 18, King 14, Pinto 9, Miranda 8, Sena 6, Gamalinda 4, Golla 2, Pascual 2, Eguilos 0, Reyes 0, Sumang 0.
Quarters: 25-20, 47-41, 65-61, 93-81