Ryan Roose Garcia, in a stellar display of skill early in the second half, led Phoenix to a 118-106 victory over Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The former Far Eastern University Tamaraws shooting guard Garcia posted 19 of his career-high 33 points in the third period plus six assists and two steals. Garcia shot 13-of-19 overall in the field including six triples.
“We prepared very well and I didn’t even think about my recent injury. I’m thankful to the management for their all-out support,” said Garcia, who’ve missed the playoff round last conference because of a shoulder injury
Nigerian import Kenny Adeleke posted 18 points while swingman JC Intal scored 17 points highlighted by a tomahawk dunk in the fourth quarter. The latter resulted in Phoenix gaining a commanding lead in the last period.
Mac Baracael also finished with 15 points; Mick Pennisi added eight points while John Rodney Brondial contributed eight points and nine rebounds also for the Fuel Masters.
After a sluggish opening quarter, the Fuel Masters established a double-digit lead in the early part of second half through the performance of Garcia and import Adeleke.
Phoenix has a slim 50-47 edge before half time before launching an onslaught in the third period that earned the team an 84-76 advantage heading into the fourth period.
NLEX tried to narrow the gap in the fourth canto but Phoenix foiled all its attempts to bounce back until the last seconds of the game.
“Because of what the management assured us – that they will give 100 percent support to the team, that’s why the players are all pumped up and inspired to play,” Phoenix coach Koy Banal told reporters during the postgame interview.
“I’ am thankful and grateful to the players that they gave their all to be able to get the win,” he added. “I saw everybody set aside their personal goal for the good of the team.”
Former National Basketball Association player Al Thornton finished with 27 to lead the Road Warriors. It was a sorry loss for the NLEX who has beaten the Ginebra Gin Kings in their opening game last Friday.
“I want to thank everyone for their all-out support,” said Phoenix Vice-President and Alternate Governor lawyer Raymond Zorilla. “It’s a first time, it’s history. We want their hearts and we want their passion. We have full faith in the team, the coaches, the players and down to the utility.”
“Together they can achieve more. We cannot declare a holiday in the office in fact we’re already planning a fans day.”