June 15, 2019

Fuel Masters mark Alas' return with two-point decision over Aces

Justin Chua scored on a pick-and-slide play with Alex Mallari at endgame, and Phoenix Pulse checked a three-game slump with a 78-76 decision over Alaska Milk in a Petron Blaze Saturday Special in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Aces had a chance to salvage the game but Kevin Racal's make-or-break three-point attempt hit the side board, and thus the Fuel Masters escaped with the win, snapping their losing streak on the return of coach Louie Alas.

"We played for him (Alas). And we don't want to be in the bottom of the standings," said Mallari, a key factor on his endgame heroics as the Fuel Masters emerged victorious on the return of Alas from a two-game suspension.

Mallari came through big time in the payoff period - his biggest play being that of a feed to Chua in the winning basket with 9.8 ticks to play.

It's the first win for Phoenix since losing Calvin Abueva on an indefinite suspension on his flagrant infraction on TNT KaTropa import Terrence Jones.

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"It's hard to fill up what we're missing from Calvin. Three to four guys have to fill up for impact in the team. We have play as a team," said Mallari, coming up with 15 marker, four rebounds, three steals and two assists as Phoenix got back on track while snapping Alaska's three-game romp.

Chua's game winning basket capped a 10-point game he also laced with six rebounds and one steal against three turnovers.

It's a well-fought match Phoenix won also with a big help from import Richard Howell and Matthew Wright.

Howell delivered 29 big rebounds and 24 markers while Wright contributed 14 markers, five boards and five dish-offs.

After Alaska pulled even for the last time at 76 on a fastbreak play between Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero, the Fuel Masters ran a play were Wright missed an attempt from the long court.

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But Chua grabbed the offensive rebound and kept alive their chance to win the game.

And they did win on the winning play ran by Mallari and Chua.

Banchero paced the losing team with 18 points. (SB)