Baguio leads Phoenix to victory over Mahindra

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Cyrus Baguio led the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters to a come-from-behind 100-94 win over the erstwhile-unbeaten Mahindra Enforcers on Friday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

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Baguio finished with 22 points, including pivotal baskets in the payoff period that allowed the Fuel Masters to recover after trailing behind by 19 points in the first half.

“I think I screwed up at the start of the game,” Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia told reporters during the postgame interview. “I told them that we have to prove that we can win. I’d like to test them if they can handle the pressure.”

“Cyrus (Baguio) did it for us, he made good decisions. Mark (Borboran) also played a hell of a game. I told him this is your chance, just be ready. Credit to their coaching staff they’re a fighting team that wouldn’t quit.”

Replacement import Eugene Phelps notched 23 points and 21 rebounds.

“He (Phelps) was overeager to prove that it was no fluke that he made 52 points,” Vanguardia added, pertaining to Phelps’ 52 points and 16 rebounds output in his debut win against GlobalPort in July 31.

Lee Gwan Hee had 13 points and three assists while forward Mark Borboran contributed 13 points also for the Fuel Masters. The back-to-back victory improved Phoenix Petroleum’s win-loss record to 2-3 after a 0-3 start.

Mahindra established a commanding 24-13 lead after the first quarter and White’s jumper extended it to 42-23 before halftime. Phoenix, however, unleashed a 21-3 run highlighted by Baguio’s nine points late in the second quarter to cut the deficit, 45-44, at the halftime break.

Lee’s buzzer-beating triple narrowed the gap, 44-45, at the half.

The Fuel Masters grabbed the lead at the start of third period, 46-45, through Phelps’ jumper. It was a toe-to-toe battle in the third quarter en route to Mahindra taking a slim 71-68 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Despite the Enforcers’ tough defense throughout the fourth quarter, the Fuel Masters led by Baguio grabbed the lead, 87-84 with 4:21 left in the game.

Borboran scored a crucial jumper to establish Phoenix’s 95-92 lead over Mahindra with 1:15 left. The Enforcers missed four attempts in the last minute mark allowing Phoenix to seal the win.

Mahindra’s first loss in five games put them on the second spot with Barangay Ginebra that is carrying a similar 4-1 win-loss record. Talk ‘N Text, with a 4-0 win-loss record, is the solo leader.

Import James White led the Enforcers with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three block shots while Aldrech Ramos contributed 18 points and eight rebounds. Paolo Taha and Nino Canaleta contributed 13 and 10 points, respectively, also for Mahindra.

JOSEF T. RAMOS

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