Encho Serrano takes flight as Phoenix stuns Converge to boost playoff hopes

Encho Serrano just kept the fire burning for Phoenix.

The high flying guard took flight in the second half as the Fuel Masters pulled the rug from under the Converge FiberXers, 106-103, to give their playoff bid a huge boost in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Encho Serrano takes flight in the second half as Phoenix stuns Converge (PBA Images)

Scoreless in the first two quarters, Serrano came alive and ran wild with daredevil drives and booming triples to pull off the upset against the FiberXers and improve the Fuel Masters’ record to a 3-5 slate.

He finished with 28 points – 17 of which he poured in the final frame including a huge layup over the outstretched arms of Kevin Racal with 18.7 seconds left to put Phoenix ahead for good.

Import Du’Vaughn Maxwell posted a double-double of 19 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks while Tyler Tio added 16 markers.

Phoenix head coach Jamike Jarin felt the eight-day rest of the team was a huge factor to the victory especially on how the Fuel Masters managed to keep in step with the FiberXers who, on the other hand, was playing their second game in a four-day span.

“Like what we said before we began, we got a good rest coming into this game so that was our advantage. We were ready to go up and down for 48 minutes. So that was an advantage. So I think they got a little tired towards the end, that's why we were able to get the win,” said Jarin.

It was actually a back-and-forth affair with both teams tied 97-all after a Serrano layup with less than five minutes left in the contest. Jeron Teng and Tio traded free throws before Jamaal Franklin buried a triple to which Tyler Tio replied with a triple of his own to keep Phoenix ahead by a hairline, 103-102.

A Justin Arana layup shoved Converge ahead but Serrano retaliated with a split from the foul line and the dagger layup a few sequences after as Converge came up dry in its final two possessions allowing Phoenix to come away with the win

Converge did fairly well in the game with Franklin leading six other players in double-digits with 30 points but just couldn’t put the clamps on Serrano who ran wild in the final two quarters of the game.