Power shift for Phoenix, ROS
In an unexpected reversal of forms, Phoenix Pulse switched places with Rain or Shine at the top even as San Miguel Beer solidified its bid for the second premium quarterfinal berth in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.
Flashing deadly poise down the stretch, the Fuel Masters upset the 2018 Governors’ Cup champion Magnolia Hotshots, 89-87, Wednesday to clinch at least a tie for the No. 1 qualifying slot with an 8-1 win-loss record.
A three-point play and triple by Mathew Wright and another trey by 2018 top rookie Jason Perkins settled the issue for Phoenix, which was facing Ginebra San Miguel at press time and will battle the formidable Beermen in its last game.
The Elasto Painters, the lone conquerors of the Fuel Masters so far, earlier absorbed an 85-82 loss from the Columbian Dyip that came two days after they were blown away by the TNT KaTropa, 100-92.
The successive setbacks left ROS with a 7-3 card and within striking distance from SMB, TNT, Alaska and Ginebra, which have three losses so far.
The Beermen moved up to third at 6-3 with SMB blasting NLEX, 121-111, before turning back NorthPort, 113-107, behind a 40-point, 19-rebound performance by June Mar Fajardo.
TNT was fourth at 5-3 after also outclassing Blackwater, 127-89. Alaska and Ginebra have 3-3 records with the Gin Kings hoping to improve their record in the ongoing game against the Fuel Masters.
The top two teams after the single-round eliminations will need just one win over the No. 7 and No. 8 qualifiers in the quarterfinals. It will be a best-of-three duel for No. 3 against No. 6 and No. 4 against No. 5 for the other elims’ survivors.
Magnolia bounced back from its foldup against Phoenix with a masterful 103-86 conquest of Alaska that somehow improved its record to 2-4. Despite their poor start, the Hotshots are expected to still advance to the quarterfinals along with the Meralco Bolts.
With a double overtime 126-123 escape against NorthPort, Meralco improved to 3-5 just behind the 4-5 mark of Columbian.
NorthPort and NLEX, both at 2-5, and Blackwater (2-7) seemed out of contention so far.
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