Phoenix handed its coach Louie Alas a fitting birthday present with a huge 123-97 trashing of NLEX to boost its twice-to-beat bonus chances in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup last night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Fresh from 10-day break, the well-rested Fuel Masters quickly raced to a 34-18 cushion after the opening frame and never looked back from there.
At the half, they were already miles ahead with a massive 71-33 lead, tying the third largest half-time gap in history.
Phoenix then just held the fort in the second half despite several rallies by NLEX en route to a huge bounce back win from a tough 99-101 setback to leader Ginebra last 29 September in Cagayan De Oro City.
With this win, Phoenix improved to 6-2 to move a win away from clinching its first quarterfinals berth under Alas’ tutelage since his transfer from Alaska last year.
This win also beefed up the Fuel Masters’ chances of securing one of the four twice-to-beat incentives in the playoffs with still four games remaining in their elimination round campaign.
“It was a huge rebound win coming off a close loss to Ginebra,” said Alas who turned 55 years old yesterday.
“At least with this win, we are back. We’re back in contention for that twice-to-beat advantage because we’re just a game behind the leaders now. We like our situation so far.”
Steady import Eugene Phelps paced the Fuel Masters anew, racking up a game-high 51 points to go along 20 rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
Calvin Abueva also continued to be a factor for Phoenix with his 17 points and seven rebounds while Matthew Wright added 10 points and seven assists.
Meanwhile, Aaron Fuller was the lone man who shone for NLEX with 38 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
The Road Warriors suffered their second straight loss for a 4-4 slate.