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Phoenix kicks off the New Year with a win over NLEX

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The Phoenix Fuel Masters started the year on the right track by registering a win over the NLEX Road Warriors, 102-95, in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

NLEX came in with a lot of steam to lead as much as 10 points, 19-9, early in the first period. Juami Tiongsion carried the team with 10 points as they lead by 6 points heading into the second period.

It was the Fuel Masters turn to run as Jeff Chan went perfect from the field with 11 points to bring his team back in the game to recapture the lead and carry a 1-point lead at halftime.

Phoenix carried their momentum at the start of the second half as Matthew Wright caught fire firing three 3-point bombs while Jason Perkins added the needed boost scoring 6 points in the third period. Fuel Masters lead by 15 entering the final period.

The Road Warriors made a strong push to trim down the with Larry Fonacier scoring 13 of 22 points in the fourth quarter but Phoenix was able to hold on and give them their first defeat of the conference.

Wright finished the game with 19 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals while Chan added the scoring punch with 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Jazul contributed with 15 points while Doug Kramer had a double-double with 10 points and eleven rebounds.

Rookie Jason Perkins continues to impress with 14 points, eight rebounds, and two steals.

In a losing effort, Fonacier led all scorers with 22 points. Tiongson had a commendable performance with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The 2nd overall pick in the 2017 PBA Draft Kiefer Ravena had a subpar performance with 8 points while shooting with 31% from the field.

NLEX will have a chance to bounce back against the Magnolia Star Hotshots on January 14, Sunday while Phoenix will look to carry their momentum and win three-straight games when they face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on January 17, Wednesday. Both games will be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The boxscores:

PHOENIX 102 – Wright 19, Chan 18, Jazul 15, Perkins 14, Chua 12, Kramer 10, Revilla 6, Wilson 2, Intal 2, Dehesa 2, Eriobu 2, Alolino 0.

NLEX 95 – Fonacier 22, Tiongson 12, Miranda 10, Quinahan 10, Al-Hussaini 8, Ravena 8, Taulava 6, Alas 6, Baguio 4, Gotladera 3, Ighalo 3, Buenafe 3.
Quarterscores: 19-25, 54-53, 88-73, 102-95.

By Ernest Leo Hernandez