The Phoenix Fuel Masters will be heading into the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs as the second seed and with a twice-to-beat edge following their 97-91 conquest of the Blackwater Elite, Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters – who will be entering the playoffs with the win-once advantage for the very first time in history – finished the eliminations with an 8-3 card.
“At least we’re one win away from the semis,” said an elated Louie Alas, who has finally entered the playoffs as Phoenix head coach. “Maraming motivating factors si Attorney Raymond Zorilla, so we’ll do our job.”
Calvin Abueva went back to Beast mode, producing 25 points on 61 percent shooting and eight rebounds in 22 minutes to pace Phoenix. Matthew Wright backed him up with 23 points, seven boards, and five assists.
The two were pivotal for the Fuel Masters, especially in the end. When the Elite came back from nine down and knocked within four with 1:36 to go, Wright made a long tough jumper to widen their lead, 95-89, with 41.5 seconds left.
And when Blackwater responded courtesy of a Henry Walker fadeaway, Abueva shut the door on the opposition by coolly sinking both of his freebies with 10.5 seconds left, which eventually settled the final score.
Eugene Phelps went just 6-of-18 from the field, but he still finished with 16 points, 19 rebounds, and five assists in the victory. LA Revilla had 11 points – including the buzzer-beating halfcourt shot to end the third quarter – and six dimes.
Walker had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists to lead the Elite, who go into the quarters as the five-seed and will face the fourth-ranked Magnolia Hotshots. Nard Pinto had 17 points and 10 assists with three boards.
Foul-troubled Poy Erram was just a point shy of a double-double with nine points and 14 rebounds.
The Elite suffered a major blow in the game as early as the second quarter when resident shooter Mike DiGregorio was ejected thanks to a flagrant foul penalty two for throwing the ball at Phelps. He left with seven points.
Phoenix 97 – Abueva 25, Wright 23, Phelps 16, Revilla 11, Perkins 9, Jazul 4, Chua 4, Intal 3, Wilson 1, Alolino 1, Kramer 0.
Blackwater 91 – Walker 21, Pinto 17, Zamar 12, Belo 10, Erram 9, Maliksi 9, Digregorio 7, Al-Hussaini 4, Javier 2, Cortez 0, Sumang 0, Jose 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18, 44-48, 72-69, 97-91.
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