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.

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