Jason Perkins scored a career-best 31 points and nailed two crucial free throws to secure Phoenix Super LPG's 110-105 victory against NorthPort Batang Pier on Thursday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga.
Perkins shot 12-for-18 from the field, hit four triples and grabbed 12 boards in 39 huge minutes. Phoenix Super LPG is 2-0 in the PBA Philippine Cup, tied for the top spot with TNT.
Phoenix led by as many as 14 in the third quarter but had to weather an uprising from NorthPort, which tied the game at 88-all midway through the final quarter.
"It's just a blessing for us to really be given an opportunity to grow. We expected this to be a tough battle," said coach Topex Robinson.
Both teams engaged in a shootout there as Kevin Ferrer and Justin Chua traded triples in four straight possessions, but the Fuel Masters had the final say in that exchange and pushed the lead to nine, 103-94, after Perkins converted at the break with 3:16 left.
NorthPort hung around and even trimmed the lead to two after a Ferrer triple cut it to 106-104, but Perkins stayed steady at the line to seal the deal for Phoenix
Mathew Wright, who opened his season with a 36-point explosion, bucked a tough Batang Pier defensive scheme to finish with 23 points (5-for-13), nine assists and seven boards, focusing more on facilitating after putting up 23 shots in the first game.
"First game, Matt took a lot of shots and made them. This game, Matt sacrificed his scoring and trusted his teammates to get open," said Robinson. "We knew they were gonna look at Matthew, and Matthew knew this was the best opportunity for him to build trust. Trust means that he's always gonna look for his open teammates and trusting that his open teammates will score."
Chua also came up big in the fourth and finished with 17 points, three rebounds and three blocks before fouling out.
NorthPort, which slid to 0-2, drew a 28-point, 11-rebound performance from Christian Standhardinger, though the big man did struggle from the line and only made six of 16 free throws. Sean Anthony tallied a triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 10 dimes in the loss.
Phoenix will shoot for a third consecutive win and break a tie atop the standings against the Tropang Giga on Sunday.
"It's nice, but obviously like what Matt told me before I went here, don't celebrate," Robinson said. "I'm gonna take it from our leader not to celebrate. We deserve more. We want to be hungry for more. Complacency killed the cat. We don't want to be that victim. So we're gonna compete."
Phoenix Super LPG (110) -- Perkins 31, Wright 23, Chua 17, Jazul 10, Heruela 9, Rios 8, Intal 5, Napoles 4, Marcelo 3, Reyes 0, Garcia 0.
NorthPort (105) -- Standhardinger 28, Anthony 23, Lanete 17, Ferrer 14, Taha 7, Nabong 6, Elorde 4, Cruz 2, Revilla 2, Guinto 2, Manganti 0, Subido 0.
Quarters: 23-23, 55-51, 83-77, 110-105.
Phoenix shot a blistering 17-for-43 on threes and attempted more from downtown than inside the arc (35 attempts). Overall the team made 46.2 percent of its shots.
NorthPort was 25-for-42 from the free throw line (59.5 percent).
NorthPort vs. Rain or Shine on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 4 p.m.
Phoenix vs. TNT on Monday, Oct. 19 at 4 p.m.