Sport

Phoenix fends off NorthPort

Phoenix fends off NorthPort

MANILA, Philippines — The Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters came into the PBA bubble aiming to be the “best version” of their themselves.

After two games, coach Topex Robinson and his wards are among the best teams in Clark.

With Jason Perkins turning in a career-high 31 and an array of players stepping up for marked man Matthew Wright, Phoenix emerged victorious over NorthPort, 110-105, to grab a share of the Philippine Cup lead with idle TNT Tropang Giga (2-0).

Perkins stood at the front and tailend of a lethal 18-8 blast that gave the Fuel Masters a nine-point cushion going into the last 3:16 of the Thursday opener at AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.

The former La Salle standout complemented his scoring with 12 rebounds and two assists and capped his brilliance with two crucial free throws that put an end to NorthPort’s late upheaval.

Wright, who sizzled with 36 in their 116-98 rout of Meralco, finished with 23 against the Batang Pier’s tough defending but chalked up substantial numbers in rebounds (seven) and assists (nine).

Justin Chua chipped in 17 highlighted by back-to-back triples that maintained a 101-94 edge while also accounting for three of Phoenix’ 12 blocks. RJ Jazul (10) and Jansen Rios (eight) also contributed.

“We expected a tough battle and we knew NorthPort is going to look at Matt. And Matt knows this is his best opportunity to build trust – by looking for his open teammates and trusting they will score,” said Robinson, whose charges likewise spoiled the triple-double performance of NorthPort’s Sean Anthony (23-12-10).

Robinson downplayed the Fuel Masters’ hot start in the bubble.

“We could be 2-0, we could be 0-2; it doesn’t matter to us because we just wanted to grow as a team,” he said.

“We reminded each other we’re not a team yet, we’re just a group of gifted individuals playing the game of basketball and we’re in the best position to be the team that we wanted to be and it’s going to take a lot of sacrifices,” he added.

The Batang Pier plummeted to 0-2 despite Anthony’s effort and the solid outing of top scorer Christian Standhardinger (28-11-5).

Meanwhile, TNT Tropang Giga seeks to stretch their bubble run tonight in a titanic clash with redemption-seeking San Miguel Beermen (1-1) at 6:45 p.m.

The Tropang Giga got their bid rolling with victories over Alaska, 100-95, and TerraFirma, 112-101, highlighted by back-to-back 40-point performances from RR Pogoy (45 against the Aces) and Ray Parks, Jr. (40 against the Dyip).