Justin Chua nailed the game-winner as the Phoenix Fuel Masters survived the Alaska Aces, 78-76, in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chua scored on a left-handed layup after a pick-and-roll play with Alex Mallari with 9.8 ticks remaining. In the final play, he contested Kevin Racal's last-gasp corner three-pointer that hit only the side of the backboard.
The Fuel Masters got back on track and picked up their second win after three straight losses while snapping a three-game winning stretch by the Aces.
Richard Howell led Phoenix with 24 points and 29 rebounds. But it was Mallari who kept the Fuel Masters afloat with his timely baskets in the homestretch on his way to 15 points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from the three-point area.
"We just wanted to play hard for him (Alas) and get him a win. We need to be back on track," said Mallari after the match.
While Phoenix rose, Alaska, which was riding the crest of a three-game roll heading into the game, slid to its third loss for a 4-3 win-loss record.
Chris Banchero paced Alaska with 18 points, six rebounds and the same number of assists.
New Alaska import Nino Johnson hardly made an impact in terms of offense for the Aces, who were limited to just a single field goal in the last six minutes of the match.
Johnson had six points, four rebounds, four assists, and the same number of blocks, and five steals in nearly 32 minutes of play.
Phoenix 78 - Howell 24, Mallari 15, Wright 14, Chua 10, Intal 6, Revilla 6, Perkins 2, Jazul 1, Kramer 0, Marcelo 0, Wilson 0, Dennison 0.
Alaska 76 - Banchero 18, Manuel 10, Thoss 8, Racal 8 Teng 6, Johnson 6, Casio 6, Cruz 6, Pascual 2, Enciso 2, Exciminiano 2, Ayaay 2, Galliguez 0.
Quarterscores: 16-12, 35-30, 52-50, 78-76
-Phoenix 1-2 since without Calvin Abueva, who was banned indefinitely by the PBA.
-Phoenix head coach Louie Alas was back after serving the two-game suspension. He was banned for his role in the scuffle early in the first quarter of the Fuel Masters-TNT game.
Phoenix - vs Magnolia on June 22 at the Cuneta Astrodome
Alaska - vs San Miguel on June 21 at the Cuneta Astrodome