Phoenix Super LPG claimed the last quarterfinals berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup after rallying from a big deficit to prevail over NorthPort, 101-98, Sunday, March 13 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Reserve guard RR Garcia sparked the comeback from a 15-point down late in the first quarter and 55-46 at the half while Matthew Wright scored the go-ahead three-point play late in the payoff period that ended in favor of the Fuel Masters.
The victory earned Phoenix a quarterfinal date with top seed Magnolia Pambansang Manok, which carries a twice-to-beat advantage going into their match on Friday evening at the same venue.
“Guys just didn't give up,” said coach Topex Robinson. “We were struggling, I mean, the whole game. We just made a lot of stops in the fourth quarter. And again, at this point, it's really them. I mean, they just didn't give up.”
Garcia played like he was still playing the starring role for Far Eastern University in the UAAP, hitting 16 of his 19 points in the second half. His five straight points early in the fourth put Phoenix ahead 85-79 which was a 22-point turnaround after being behind 31-16 late in the opening quarter.
Wright bucked a sluggish shooting during a back-and-forth final canto by scoring a layup off a Jamie Malonzo foul with 29 seconds to go, his bonus free throw putting Phoenix ahead for good at 100-98.
NorthPort tried to answer but miscommunication led to Roi Sumang’s pass that went to the foot of his coach Pido Jarencio on the sidelines.
Garcia split his two free throws before Batang Pier import Jamel Artis and Jerrick Balanza missed a pair of treys as time expired.
Import Du’Vaughn Maxwell’s energy and intensity all game led to 31 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals, Perkins had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Wright finished with 11 points despite a 2-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Batang Pier suffered an early exit after a campaign that began with a 0-5 record followed by a five-game winning streak that was snapped when they fell in overtime to the TNT Tropang Giga.
Artis put up 21 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals, Malonzo had some highlight dunks as part of his 15 points, Robert Bolick made 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Arwind Santos added 14 points and six rebounds.
NorthPort scored the game’s first six points, kept the lead before extending it to that 31-16 gap after making seven in a row capping off with a three from Artis with 30 seconds to go in the first.
PHOENIX 101 — Maxwell 31, Garcia 19, Perkins 18, Jazul 11, Wright 11, Demusis 4, Rios 3, Manganti 2, Melecio 2, Pascual 0, Robles 0.
NORTHPORT 98 — Artis 21, Bolick 19, Malonzo 15, Santos 14, Sumang 14, Ferrer 6, Balanza 4, Rike 3, Taha 2.
Quarters: 18-31, 46-55, 76-79, 101-98.