Mocon return sparks Phoenix playoff hopes
Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin expressed hope that the return of Javee Mocon would spark a late playoff push after getting a rare win in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Saturday.
“That’s a good sign for us, of course,” Jarin said after the Fuel Masters’ 125-100 rout of the Terrafirma Dyip at Smart Araneta Coliseum, where Mocon played for the first time in the season-ending conference.
Mocon, who admitted to be still far from full strength, posted 13 points and four rebounds off the bench. The former San Beda star missed the previous six games after having bone spurs removed from his right knee.
The versatile forward’s return will be key for the tailend of the campaign with the Fuel Masters now at 2-5, tied for ninth spot with the team they pinned a third consecutive defeat on.
“Javee Mocon plays multiple positions, he plays the three [small forward] and the four [power forward],” said Jarin. “We’re flexible right now with his return, although in terms of game shape, he was a little bit shaky.
“But in the second half, he was the same Javee Mocon that we’re used to seeing. And he’s gonna get his groove back,” added the Fuel Masters mentor.
Phoenix will have toughen its resolve the rest of the eliminations, with Converge next on the calendar on Feb. 26 followed by a key matchup against Rain or Shine, a struggling squad barely ahead of the Fuel Masters at 2-4.
Phoenix then faces heavyweight Barangay Ginebra on March 3 and middle-of-the-pack Meralco two days later to conclude its schedule.
Mocon was one of six players in double-figures as Phoenix leaned on a big first half that kept Terrafirma way behind the eight ball.
The ejection of import Du’Vaughn Maxwell in the third quarter hardly mattered for the Fuel Masters as Mocon, Jason Perkins and Encho Serrano made sure to apply brakes on every intended Dyip rally.
Terrafirma trailed by as many as 31 points and suffered another loss on a night high-scoring import Jordan Williams was held to his lowest output of the conference.
Williams, who once scored 57 here, could only make 14 as he missed 12 of his 15 attempts.
Maxwell had 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks before getting tossed for two technical fouls.
That came after Maxwell had only 11 points despite 10 rebounds and five assists in a stinging 108-95 loss to Magnolia.
“Du’Vaughn Maxwell is a winner and he really does the dirty job—rebounding, changing shots, blocking shots. Those are the things that you don’t see in the stats sheet, so we’re fortunate to have him,” Jarin said.
“We talked about that he needs to produce more. He did very well in this game, and I know he’s gonna play much, much better in the coming games,” he added.