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Phoenix Super LPG fends off Meralco Bolts to secure top-four spot in q’finals

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TOP-FOUR. The Phoenix Super LPG subdue the Meralco Bolts, 93-83, to secure a top-four spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, January 10, 2024. PBA PHOTO

The Phoenix Super LPG showcased their resilience and composure as they secured a coveted top-four spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, fending off a determined Meralco squad, 93-83, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

As the final minutes unfolded, the game reached a critical juncture with Phoenix clinging to a narrow lead. 

The veteran leadership of skipper RJ Jazul came to the forefront, as he calmly sank a clutch triple that not only extended his team’s advantage but also doused the fiery comeback attempt by the Bolts. 

Coach Jamike Jarin acknowledged Jazul’s poise under pressure, emphasizing the team’s trust in their experienced captain during crucial moments.

He said they wanted the ball in RJ’s hands with barely a minute to go as he had been to thousands of similar situations.

Jazul’s decisive shot proved to be a turning point, thwarting Meralco’s late surge. 

The Bolts, who had trailed by as much as 14 points early in the fourth quarter, orchestrated a spirited 11-2 run to narrow the gap to 83-88. However, Phoenix’s stalwart defense and Jazul’s timely heroics prevented Meralco from completing the comeback.

With this hard-fought victory, Phoenix elevated their record to an impressive 8-2, securing a guaranteed top-four finish in the eliminations. Looking ahead, a clash with TNT awaits Phoenix in their final elimination game on Sunday. 

Jarin remains focused on the immediate challenge – TNT and is not looking beyond their next opponent.

On the other side, Meralco, despite the valiant effort, slipped to a 7-3 slate, finding themselves in a tie with San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra for the third to fifth spots. 

The Bolts now face a crucial scenario, needing a win over Terrafirma Dyip on Friday and hoping for favorable outcomes in other games to secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the upcoming round.

Jason Perkins emerged as the top scorer for Phoenix, contributing 22 points and eight rebounds. Johnathan Williams added a double-double performance with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists. Tyler Tio chipped in with 15 points, while the 37-year-old Jazul showcased his experience with 13 crucial points, 11 of which came in the second half.

Despite being hampered by foul trouble, Shonn Miller led Meralco with 19 points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the closing seconds. 

Chris Banchero, Chris Newsome, and Bong Quinto each contributed at least 10 points for the Bolts in a game that showcased the unpredictable twists and turns of PBA action.

The boxcores:

PHOENIX 93 – Perkins 22, Williams 19, Tio 15, Jazul 13, Tuffin 6, Mocon 5, Rivero 5, Alejandro 4, Verano 2, Manganti 2, Camacho 0, Siyud 0, Garcia 0.

MERALCO 83 – Miller 19, Banchero 15, Newsome 13, Quinto 10, Black 8, Almazan 8, Rios 5, Hodge 5, Pascual 0, Maliksi 0, Bates 0, Caram 0.

Quarterscores: 31-19, 54-47, 78-66, 93-83

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