Phoenix 84 – GlobalPort 72
RJ Jazul was coming off the worst performance of his young Phoenix Fuel Masters career. In an 81-66 loss to the Meralco Bolts, he posted seven points while shooting 1-for-13 from the field.
It has only been a few months since Phoenix acquired him in a trade that they initiated. The management felt that he could be an integral presence on a young, on-the-rise unit.
But in that game against Meralco, RJ let his team down.
Eager to redeem himself, Jazul came out on a mission against GlobalPort. Playing without Gilas Pilipinas selection Matthew Wright, it was the perfect time for the new Fuel Master to make amends.
He poured in 21 points, four rebounds and two steals to help his squad gain some leverage in the playoff race.
The win gave Phoenix a 4-5 record, temporarily securing the eighth seed. It bought them some separation from the bottom four – all of whom are in danger of elimination.
It was actually GlobalPort which had a strong start in the game. Behind an early barrage of trey bombs, the Batang Pier bursted out to 28-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But once the Neon Nation started slowing down, Phoenix took the opportunity climb back. In the second and third quarters, GlobalPort only scored 27 points. The Fuel Masters, on the other hand, put up 43.
Coach Ariel Vanguardia drew contributions from his timely insertions. For a while, it seemed as though every player he subbed into the game gave him something good. Cyrus Baguio had eight points. Chico Lanete and Joseph Eriobu dropped in six each.
But while a lot of guys chipped in, the stars of the night were still Jazul and Jameel McKay. The Phoenix import had a huge double-double of 22 points and 20 rebounds. He lopsidedly outplayed Malcolm White, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
GlobalPort obviously missed the services of reigning scoring champion Terrence Romeo. The exciting guard also skipped the game due to his commitment to Gilas. This conference, Terrence is averaging 18.8 points and 5.6 assists. Needless to say, he was responsible for a huge chunk of the Batang Pier’s offense.
And not even a strong game from his Slash Brother, Stanley Pringle, could make up for his absence. Pringle finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and six dimes. He tried to do the hard labor for GlobalPort in the last few minutes of the game. But he could only do so much.
The loss puts the Batang Pier at 2-6, leaving all of their remaining three games as virtual must-wins.
As for the Fuel Masters, it was from the prettiest win for Phoenix. But it’s something they’ll take for now. For a team that has been constantly rebuilding over the last few conferences, any sign of progress should be appreciated.
At least, for now, they can say they made some good moves.