Franchise record win puts Phoenix back in PBA playoff hunt
PBA ALL-FILIPINO

Franchise record win puts Phoenix back in PBA playoff hunt

/ 05:15 AM April 21, 2024

RJ Jazul Phoenix PBA

Phoenix guard RJ Jazul in the PBA Philippine Cup.–PBA PHOTO

Phoenix rolled to the biggest win in franchise history on Saturday and turned what little wiggle room it had to sneak into the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup into something bigger.

The Fuel Masters got a 112-77 win at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City at the expense of the NLEX Road Warriors, who fell for the second straight time and kept alive the latest trend of unheralded teams that went into surprising starts go into slow tailspins.

And that has allowed the big teams to make steady climbs like Barangay Ginebra, an 87-83 winner over TNT in a competitive Friday night affair at PhilSports Arena.

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Shake-ups in the standings is something Phoenix hopes to capitalize after improving to 3-5 (win-loss) for joint 10th spot with Blackwater with three games to go in the eliminations.

“We have to play with composure,” Phoenix’s RJ Jazul said in a postgame television interview after firing for 19 points against NLEX. “It’s important that we play the same way whether we’re up or we’re down.

“We got a big lead [against NLEX] and it didn’t stop from there,” added the veteran guard after the Fuel Masters went up by a high of 40 points.

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Phoenix has won two of its last three games after dropping all but one of its first six matches, a complete turnaround from the Commissioner’s Cup when the Fuel Masters went on a dream semifinal run anchored by Best Import Johnathan Williams.

Crucial challenge

Next for the squad is a crucial challenge against TNT on Wednesday at Ninoy Aquino Stadium before playing Meralco on April 26 at Smart Araneta Coliseum and Blackwater on May 4 at Ynares Pasig.

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The last two opponents are teams also vying for at least the bottom spots of the playoffs, with Meralco sitting at 3-4 going into Sunday’s face off with winless Converge at PhilSports. Blackwater, meanwhile, has dropped five in a row after a 3-0 start.

Blackwater’s woes are an example of the current struggles endured by some teams that started hot.

NLEX remained inside the top four despite dropping to 5-3, no thanks to the second-worst defeat in franchise history. The Road Warriors could have more to rue: They battle undefeated San Miguel Beer on April 28, Rain or Shine on May 3 at PhilSports and Ginebra on May 5.

Also on a downward trend is NorthPort, now at 4-4 after three consecutive defeats with San Miguel as its next foe also on Sunday at PhilSports.

San Miguel leads the pack at 6-0 while Ginebra has a 6-3 slate for either second or third by end of Saturday, depending on Magnolia’s result against Rain or Shine in Tiaong, Quezon, at press time.

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Magnolia went to Tiaong with a 4-2 record, having won three straight after a slow start and was facing a Rain or Shine team that overturned a 0-4 start by getting five victories in a row.

TAGS: NLEX, PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix

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