PHOENIX rose to the challenge last night as it turned back Alaska, 94-86 and snapped its two-game skid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Taking advantage of a depleted Aces squad, the Fuel Masters improved to a 3-4 win-loss record.
Phoenix was also able to rebound from its heartbreaking 94-96 loss to Rain or Shine in its last outing.
Reinforcement Jameel McKay provided the firepower the Fuel Masters needed in the game, finishing with a game-high 42 points and 22 rebounds despite having to exit the game in the final seconds because of a cramped left leg.
McKay also dominated his counterpart, Cory Jefferson, who finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds to earn the best player of the game honor.
Cyrus Baguio and RJ Jazul were the only other Phoneix players who scored in double figures, contributing 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Aces, missing star Calvin Abueva who joined Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero on a growing injured list, suffered their second successive loss after starting the conference with four wins.
“It was really Cyrus and RJ…they were really instrumental in this win,” Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said. “I talked to them last Wednesday and I said I knew that’s (Alaska) your family before, but I haven’t felt that you’re with us. And there has to come a time you have to step up.”
“And Jameel is getting better every day, and we know how to play with him,” he added.
Action shifts at the Mall of Asia today with San Miguel seeking to extend its winning run to five as it clashes with Rain or Shine in the opener at 3 p.m.
Star and Blackwater, meantime, collide in the 5:15 p.m. main offering.
The Beermen are the only undefeated team left in the import-spiced conference but they remain wary of the Elasto Painters, who are also seeking their second straight victory.
The Hotshots, on the other hand, are looking to stop their two-game losing skid against the Elite, who has only a win to show after six outings.
Phoenix (94) -- McKay 42, Baguio 12, Jazul 10, Wright 7, Borboran 7, Kramer 6, Alolino 5, Miranda 5, Torres 0, Dehesa 0.
Alaska (86) -- Jefferson 31, Casio 14, Thoss 8, Exciminiano 6, Racal 6, Mendoza 6, Enciso 5, Cruz 3, Dela Cruz 3, Hontiveros 2, Andrada 2, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 25-19, 42-36, 66-62, 94-86.