Not even the ejection of import Du’Vaughn Maxwell could stop Phoenix from rising from its ashes, soaring to a dominant 125-100 victory that also ended its dry spell in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The Fuel Masters leaned on a huge second-quarter onslaught that built them a reliable 19-point lead at the break – an advantage that proved to be enough to buck the absence of their import for most of the second half and arrest their two-game slide.
Maxwell bounced back from a dismal 11-point showing last time out with 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists before hitting the showers midway through the third frame after a flagrant foul penalty 1 infraction on Jordan Williams.
The do-it-all import already had a technical in an earlier altercation with Terrafirma guard Alex Cabagno causing his ejection.
Luckily, Phoenix was already ahead by a wide 75-52 margin and the local players only needed to keep Terrafirma at bay for the rest of the contest.
Jason Perkins contributed 14 points and seven rebounds while Javee Mocon announced his return to the lineup with 13 points. RR Garcia and Sean Maganti were the other double-digit scorers for Phoenix with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Despite the ejection, Maxwell impacted the game enough already in the first half to ensure the win for Phoenix, according to head coach Jamike Jarin.
“It was unfortunate that he was called for his second technical and had to be ejected but what he did in the first half actually helped us already to have that lead so when we lost him in the third quarter, everybody stepped up. So that’s our mentality, the next man up and everybody did well,” said Jarin.
Maxwell actually dropped 18 of his total in the first two quarters, conniving with guys like Perkins, Garcia and Kurt Lojera to explode for 35 points in the second quarter to build a 64-45 lead at the half.
Juami Tiongson was the lone bright spot for the Dyip with 27 points while the usual high-scoring import in Williams only finished with 14 points on a measly 3-of-15 clip from the field and missing all of his six attempts from the three-point territory.