Top seed Phoenix showed no signs of rust from a long layoff, quickly dispatching Alaska, 91-76, to make its first ever PBA semifinal appearance in franchise history.
The Fuel Masters stepped on the gas in the middle quarters behind Jason Perkins and Calvin Abueva to show the exit door on the injury-ravaged Aces in their 2019 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal match Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Perkins provided the huge lift for Phoenix after finishing with a new PBA career-high 31 points on top of nine rebounds. He shot 11-of-15 from the field to earn Best Player of the Game honors.
Abueva came out with his usual energy to finish with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, along with five assists. Matthew Wright also played a key contributor for the Fuel Masters, chipping in 14 points, six assists and four rebounds.
The Fuel Masters, armed with a twice-to-beat edge, made sure they learned from their bitter 2018 Governors' Cup campaign.
Phoenix entered the season-ending conference last season as the no. 2 seed, but got beaten two straight times by the seventh-seeded Meralco Bolts.
The Aces, who reached the quarterfinals after beating NLEX in a do-or-die match for the eighth playoff spot Friday, didn't have the legs to keep up with the fresher Fuel Masters, who led by as many as 28 points in the second half.
Phoenix 91 - Perkins 31, Wright 14, Abueva 12, Jazul 6, Mendoza 6, Chua 6, Revilla 6, Kramer 5, Mallari 2, Marcelo 3, Intal 0, Guevarra 0, Gamboa 0, Napoles 0, Dennison 0.
Alaska 76 - Casio 19, Enciso 15, Teng 12, Banchero 6, Galliguez 6, Cruz 4, Baclao 4, Ayaay 3, Pascual 2, Thoss 2, Exciminiano 2, Racal 1, Babilonia 0.
Quarters: 18-15, 47-35, 72-49, 91-76
-- Chris Banchero played through an injured hand to finish with six points and three turnovers in 17 minutes.
-- Phoenix dominated two major departments to quickly dispatch Alaska. The Fuel Masters held a huge 62-44 rebounding edge and showed excellent team play with their 26 assists compared to the Aces' 11.