Vic Manuel proved to be a thorn on his former team’s side as Phoenix vented its frustration on Alaska, 101-93, to seize its first win in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday, July 24 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Manuel drilled in a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Fuel Masters arrest their two-game losing skid to start the season.
It was a huge performance from the 34-year-old forward, who was traded by Alaska for Brian Heruela and draft picks during the offseason, as main gunner Matthew Wright was out due to ankle sprain.
“Sabi lang ni coach (Topex Robinson), ‘Ikaw muna.’ Kaya ‘yung kumpyansa ko talagang mataas dahil sa tiwala sa’kin ni coach Topex, coaching staff at teammates ko,” said the “Muscle Man” who was saddled with foul trouble down the stretch.
Manuel scattered away 24 points in the first three quarters as the Fuel Masters took a commanding 84-61 lead heading into the final frame.
However, Manuel picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth period wherein the Aces staged a huge comeback attempt to cut their deficit down to single digit.
Manuel checked back in and hit a tough layup over two defenders to give Phoenix a 95-85 lead with 1:11 remaining before weathering Alaska’s storm on RJ Jazul’s insurance free throws.
Jazul racked up 19 points anchored on four triples while rookie guard Aljun Melecio chipped in 13 markers for the Fuel Masters, who made a huge bounce back after suffering a 115-79 beating to NorthPort last Wednesday.
Jason Perkins added 12 points, eight boards, three assists and three steals even as Jake Pascual contributed 10 markers and six rebounds in the win.
Gab Banal led Alaska with 17 points built on four treys while Abu Tratter had a 16-marker, 10-board double-double and Robbie Herndon had 13 points.
The Aces, who managed to trim a 25-point deficit down to a single digit late in the game, suffered their second consecutive defeat to fall to 1-2.
PHOENIX 101– Manuel 26, Jazul 19, Melecio 13, Perkins 12, Pascual 10, Rios 9, Garcia 5, Chua 7, Muyang 0, Demusis 0, Tamsi 0
ALASKA 93 – Banal 17, Tratter 14, Herndon 13, Taha 9, DiGregorio 8, Teng 8, Adamos 7, Brondial 6, Ahanmisi 5, Casio 2, Stockton 2, Marcelino 0
Quarters : 18-26, 53-42, 84-61, 101-93