(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. --NorthPort vs. Meralco
7 p.m.--San Miguel vs. Phoenix
BEFORE Wednesday’s crucial game between Phoenix and NLEX, both coaches Louie Alas and Yeng Guiao admitted defense will be the key to victory.
In fact, Alas even claimed the Fuel Masters will turn the game into a defensive battle instead of a shootout.
Mission accomplished for Phoenix and Alas, who got exactly what he wanted on his 55h birthday Wednesday.
Led by import Michael Phelps and Calvin Abueva, Phoenix routed NLEX, 123-97, to bolster its chances with its sixth win in eight outings in the PBA Governors’Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Phoenix led by as many as 41 points to underscore their great defensive effort.
Big bounce-back game ito sa amin kasi ‘yung talo namin sa Ginebra one-possession game lang,” said Alas.
“We’re back and I like our situation,”he added.
But impressive as their defense was, the Fuelmasters still needed a big lift from their hard-working import, Phelps.
Phelps finished with monster numbers of 51 points on 21-of-31 shooting from the floor and 20 rebounds in less than 39 minutes.
Abueva added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Fuel Masters, who settled the outcome of the match with a 34-18 first quarter.
Matthew Wright added 10 points and seven assists and Jason Perkins had nine points and eight rebounds for Phoenix, whose only defeat came at the hands of Ginebra, 99-101, last Sept. 29.
Aaron Fuller almost singlehandedly carried the fight for NLEX as he finished with 38 points and 14 rebounds.
Only Pedrito Galanza, who finished with 13 points, and Larry Fonacier, who had 10 points, managed to score in double figures for NLEX in the face of Phoenix’s air-tight defense. So good, so impressive were the Fuel Masters’ defense that they limited the Road Warriors to only 39 percent shooting (35-of-88) while making 48 percent (45-of-84)of their shots.
The Fuel Masters also outrebounded the Road Warriors, 65-43, with Phelps, Perkins and Abueva combining for 35 caroms.
Phoenix (123) --Phelps 51, Abueva 17, Wright 10, Perkins 9, Wilson 8, Intal 7, Revilla 5, Jazul 3, Guevarra 3, Mendoza 3, Eriobu 3, Chua 2, Gamboa 2, Alolino 0, Kramer 0.
NLEX (97) --Fuller 38, Galanza 13, Fonacier 10, Tiongson 6, Monfort 5, Ighalo 4, Quinahan 4, Marcelo 3, Baguio 3, Rios 3, Miranda 3, Tallo 3, Soyud 2, Paniamogan 0, Taulava 0.
Quarterscores: 34-18, 71-33, 94-67, 123-97.