Phoenix overcame NLEX, 95-91, to move up to seventh place in the 2016 PBA Governors Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday night.
Eugene Phelps worked on a huge double-double with 29 points and 26 rebounds while Cyrus Baguio and Mark Borboran had their crucial exploits in the clutch as the Fuel Masters notched a third win against four losses.
The Fuel Masters survived a four-point deficit in the last 33 seconds of regulation play and lived on in OT to send the Road Warriors reeling to a fifth loss in eight games.
“We played their game – a low-scoring game. That’s why it was close. We fell into their trap as we couldn’t get our running game going. But the guys just didn’t give up,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“We gambled with a double-teaming defense that worked towards the end of regulation. It led to a big trey by Cyrus and that proved to be the turning point of the game,” Vanguardia also said.
The Fuel Masters fought from four points down in the last 33 seconds to force overtime at 84-all.
Actually, Phoenix even pulled ahead at 84-82 on a six straight points of Phelps and Baguio but then had a defensive lapse in the dying seconds, allowing Kevin Alas to sneak in a game-tying layup with 1.7 ticks to go.
It was a tough grind marked by 11 lead changes and five dead locks.
Neither team led by more than eight. NLEX enjoyed the biggest lead on its 16-8 start in the contest.
The game appeared in the bag for the Road Warriors at 82-78. But Phelps made a quick basket in their next possession then the Fuel Masters came through with a defensive gem forcing Sean Anthony into a passing error.
The Fuel Masters then worked the ball around well before finding Baguio, who drained a booming trey that sent them ahead at 83-82.
Getting into a rhythm from there, the Fuel Masters seized control in the opening minute of overtime and went on to clinch the crucial win.