Wright, Intal power Phoenix past Mahindra

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Phoenix Petroleum rode on the another stellar performance of rookie Matthew Wright and veteran JC Intal to post a convincing 114-104 win over Mahindra on Sunday for a back-to-back victory in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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After upsetting the defending champion San Miguel Beermen (92-85) last Wednesday, the Fuel Masters proved that victory wasn’t a fluke by controlling the first three quarters before being threatened in the payoff period.

“I wasn’t too happy the way we ended this game,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia during the post game interview. “If that’s the case, we should always be attacking, playing defense. I am aching to go back to the dugout to talk to the team.”

Alex Mallari of Mahindra drives to the basket against JC Intal (left) and Marvin Hayes of Phoenix during the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. RUSSELL PALMA

Alex Mallari of Mahindra drives to the basket against JC Intal (left) and Marvin Hayes of Phoenix during the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. RUSSELL PALMA

“We started the way we wanted. Mahindra is loaded with players who can score. We stopped attacking when we’re leading by a huge margin. I’m not happy with that because we stopped from playing basketball after having a good lead and that’s not right.

Intal racked up 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting beyond the arc to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks while the small forward Wright poured in 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter on 7-of-14 shooting in the field to give Phoenix a 2-1 win-loss record.

The Fuel Masters struggled a bit at the start of the game but finally got their bearings back leading as many as nine, 32-23, at the end of first quarter. They unleashed seven of their 11 three-pointers in the first half.

They sustained their run in the second period behind Cyrus Baguio’s eight points to end the half ahead with 60-43. Phoenix launched an 8-0 run starting the second half that gave them a 68-43 edge. Intal’s triple and dunk gave Phoenix its biggest lead at 30 points, 105-75, with 9:20 left.

But Mahindra suddenly came alive in the fourth quarter through Alex Mallari and Ryan Arana, as they unleashed a 21-0 bomb to come within 111-104 with just 42 seconds left. Time wasn’t enough for the Floodbuster to complete a massive comeback, though.

Big man Prince Caperal scored 12 points and 17 rebounds, while Simon Enciso had 12 points, rookie Gelo Alolino made 10 points and Baguio finished with 10 points and five assists also for the Fuel Masters. Alex Mallari led Mahindra with 19 points while Philip Paniamogan finished with 15 points in the first half. The Floodbuster dropped to 0-3 win-loss record.

Phoenix scored more triples than Mahindra 17-3.

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