MANILA, Philippines – Phoenix got off to a flying start in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup as it dealt Blackwater its first loss of the conference with a hard-fought 103-98 win at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, May 31.
Leading by as many as 19 points, the Fuel Masters almost suffered a meltdown in the final frame before bucking it in the endgame for a 1-0 record while dropping the Elite to 3-1.
Matthew Wright delivered 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, and most importantly, knocked down the pair of free throws in the final few ticks that helped Phoenix fend off the Blackwater comeback.
The Elite, despite trailing 74-93 early in the payoff period, were determined to keep their winning streak alive and managed to narrow the gap to just 3 points, 98-101, with 3 seconds left on the clock.
However, they could not complete the fightback as they committed a costly inbound turnover before Wright sealed the win for the Fuel Masters.
Import Rob Dozier put up 18 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while RJ Jazul and Jason Perkins chalked up 17 and 16 points, respectively, in the win.
Sparking life off the Phoenix bench, Calvin Abueva had 13 points and 16 rebounds, while Alex Mallari and Justin Chua added 8 and 7 points, respectively.
Ray Parks breached the 20-point mark for the fourth straight game with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals, but Blackwater just could not get the job done this time around.
Reinforcement Alex Stepheson had 24 points, 18 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the losing effort, while Mac Belo and Roi Sumang chimed in 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Phoenix 103 - Wright 22, Dozier 18, Jazul 17, Perkins 16, Abueva 13, Mallari 8, Chua 7, Kramer 2, Revilla 0, Intal 0, Marcelo 0, Wilson 0.
Blackwater 98 - Parks 25, Stepheson 24, Belo 12, Sumang 10, Tratter 7, Maliksi 6, Al-Hussaini 6, Digregorio 4, Cortez 2, Alolino 2, Salem 0.
Quarters: 15-17, 41-41, 80-71, 103-98.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.