The Phoenix Fuel Masters secured the last available twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals after defeating the Blackwater Elite, 97-91, in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday evening.
Calvin Abueva anchored his team with 25 points and eight rebounds. Matthew Wright poured in 23 points, seven boards and five assists. The two complemented another strong outing from import Eugene Phelps, who finished with 16 markers and 19 caroms.
It wasn't the most efficient shooting night for the Fuel Masters but they compensated with extra effort. They outrebounded the Elite, 64-51, and made the most of transition opportunities that opened up scoring. Phoenix scored 16 fastbreak points and turned Blackwater's 14 errors into 20 turnover points.
The Elite tried to fight back behind the leadership of Henry Walker. The dominant reinforcement tallied 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. There was support from the locals as Nard Pinto put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists. Mac Belo also helped out with 10 markers.
But some of Blackwater's usual gunners fired blanks. JP Erram and Allein Maliksi could only combine for 18 points on 6-for-22 shooting from the field.
After a 5-1 start to the conference, the Fuel Masters seemed to cool down a bit as they lost two of their next three games. They seem to be gaining rhythm again as they close out their elimination round with back-to-back wins.
The Elite also had a fiery start, winning their first four games of the Governors' Cup. But they lost steam and went 3-4 the rest of the way.
Blackwater will face the Magnolia Hotshots in the quarterfinals with a twice-to-beat disadvantage.
Phoenix 97 - Abueva 25, Wright 23, Phelps 16, Revilla 11, Perkins 9, Jazul 4, Chua 4, Intal 3, Wilson 1, Alolino 1, Kramer 0.
Blackwater 91 - Walker 21, Pinto 17, Zamar 12, Belo 10, Erram 9, Maliksi 9, Digregorio 7, Al-Hussaini 4, Javier 2, Cortez 0, Sumang 0, Jose 0.
Quarters: 21-18, 44-48, 72-69, 97-91.
- History speaks volumes of the advantage that Phoenix snatched with this win. In the 111 times that a series with a twice-to-beat advantage was played, the team with the incentive won 99 times. - -
- The result of this game also formalized a quarterfinals face-off between Alaska and San Miguel, with the former enjoying a twice-to-beat incentive.