RJ Jazul rediscovered the scoring prowess he was known for in college and dropped a career-high 33 points to lead Phoenix Super LPG to a crucial 110-103 win over defending champion San Miguel Beer Thursday night in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Jazul took the spotlight from the league’s top scorer Matthew Wright and the energetic Calvin Abueva by knocking down 23 points in the fourth quarter that enabled the Fuel Masters to pull away and end the Beermen’s three-game winning streak.
He also set another personal-best by making nine triples at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center as Phoenix leapfrogged SMB to move in sole possession of third place at 6-3 while also becoming the third team to secure a quarterfinals berth.
“You have to make him feel that you believe in him,” said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson, who has known Jazul since their days with the Alaska Aces when he was still serving as an assistant.
“We’ve gone way back since Alaska, and he knows that I trust him with all my heart and he struggles a lot but I told him ‘If you’re open, keep shooting that shot and you’re gonna make it, eventually.’ But again, RJ shooting those threes is special for us,” he added.
Jazul, regarded for his offensive brilliance as a Letran Knight more than a decade ago, highlighted his performance with three straight triples in response to the own treys made by SMB, which pulled to within two points multiple times in the fourth.
He delivered on the night when Wright was held to 10 points and Abueva seven. But Wright grabbed seven boards and dished out 10 assists and Abueva hauled down 10 rebounds and added five assists.
Justin Chua also set a personal-best with 17 rebounds even as Jazul’s performance allowed Phoenix to set a single-game franchise record of 22 triples, also the fourth most in PBA history.
Jason Perkins was also big for the Fuel Masters, posting 27 points and 10 rebounds and guard RR Garcia scored 11 points before sustaining an injury.
SMB failed on its attempt to create a three-way tie for the lead with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT, dropping instead to a share of fourth spot with Meralco at 5-3.
Mo Tautuaa finished with 21 points, Marcio Lassiter had 20 while Alex Cabagnot produced 20 points and eight assists for the Beermen in the loss.
PHOENIX 110 — Jazul 33, Perkins 27, Garcia 11, Wright 10, Abueva 7, Mallari 7, Marcelo 3, Rios 3, Intal 2, Reyes 0, Heruela 0.
SAN MIGUEL 103 — Tautuaa 21, Lassiter 20, Cabagnot 20, Santos 11, Pessumal 10, Ross 6, Escoto 6, Gamalinda 5, Mamaril 2, Zamar 2, Alolino 0.
Quarters: 29-22, 52-53, 75-71, 110-103.