By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters survived the Meralco Bolts’ late offensive rally to book a PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal ticket, 88-84, last January 21, 2024, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
After leading by as much as 18 points, the Fuel Masters were poised in cruising past Meralco like a walk in the park.
However, the Bolts showed resiliency in the final quarter of the game and trimmed their deficit to just four points that put Phoenix in another difficult situation just like their Game 1 clash.
Fortunately, Phoenix regrouped in the most crucial stretch of the fourth and banked on several key baskets from Jason Perkins, RJ Jazul, and reinforcement Johnathan Williams.
The trio provided the much-needed points for Phoenix that answered every Meralco basket in the final four minutes of the game.
Williams maintained his steady contribution for the Fuel Masters and produced another double-double performance of 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Perkins contributed his share of a double-double outing after putting up 19 points and 13 rebounds while Jazul chipped in 13 markers.
Phoenix controlled the pace of the game for the most of the three quarters before Meralco deployed timely adjustments in the fourth to inch close in the do-or-die game.
Despite Meralco’s balanced attack, Phoenix was still able to find a way to break through and relied on their defensive stops to slow down the Bolts.
The trio of Cliff Hodge, Chris Newsome, and Allein Maliksi each scored 15 points for Meralco but import Shonn Miller only added 12.
With the win, the Fuel Masters will be squaring off against the mighty Magnolia Chicken Timplados squad in the semifinal round. In the other bracket, the San Miguel Beermen will look to hold its ground against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.