Phoenix nips undermanned Alaska to improve to 3-4
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena) 3 p.m. – Blackwater vs Star 51:5 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Rain or Shine
Coming into Friday night’s game, Phoenix Petroleum knew exactly what’s at stake, and the Fuel Masters worked as hard as they could to grind out their franchise’s first win over Alaska. we “Everyonehave to start knows winning,” that coachafter gettingAriel Vanguardia42 points saidand 22 rebounds from import Jameel McKay in a 94-86 win over the depleted Aces in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We can’t afford to be left (in the bottom half) of the standings,” he went on, referring to qualifying as the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs and face a near impossible task in the first round.
McKay played his finest game on Philippine soil and registered the second 40-20 game as the Fuel Masters rose to 3-4 (winloss) to stay solidly in the hunt towards a middle-ofthe-pack finish that would mean a level playing field in the quarterfinals. The braid-haired import cramped up with 1:22 left after giving it all, and when told that the efforts of McKay was impressive, Vanguardia replied that he will have his import wash his car after the game. Cyrus Baguio and RJ Jazul, former Aces who have loads of responsibilities with their new squad, finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively, to provide solid support to McKay. And Vanguardia said that a pep talk with the former Alaska stalwarts on Holy Wednesday gave them the confidence to step up. “I told them that (Alaska) was your family and that I haven’t felt that (they) are with us now,” Vanguardia said. “This is business and I know that they are your friends, but you guys have to step up. I told them that they may have forgotten that they are wearing the Phoenix uniform now.”
Jazul drained four straight points that quelled the last of Alaska’s uprisings to seal the deal and doom the Aces to a second straight defeat in a 4-2 card.
“They were just too nice,” Vanguardia said. “I told them that they had to man up.”
Alaska played without Calvin Abueva, Chris Banchero, Vic Manuel and Noy Baclao – practically its core – and couldn’t come up with a solid finishing kick despite getting 24 second half points from import Corey Jefferson.
James Mckay of Phoenix is fouled by Alaska’s Corey Jefferson in a PBA game yesterday.