Fuel masters outlast elite

Alex Stepheson
Alex Stepheson of Blackwater Elite takes a semi-hookshot against Rob Dozier of Phoenix in the second quarter of their game last night.

PHOENIX Fuels launched its bid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on a high note but not after taking a big scare.

The Fuel Masters got the breaks they badly needed to survive a determined fightback by Blackwater and scored a 103-98 win for an auspicious start in the midseason conference on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Fuel Masters saw their 19-point lead nearly melt under grinding pressure put up by the Elite, before breaks turned in their favor in the dying seconds to secure the win.

The Fuel Masters, who topped the elimination last conference, stormed to what looked like an insurmountable 93-74 lead on Rob Dozier’s alley oop shot with 7:58 remaining.

The Elite were down but not out.

Just when the Fuel Masters were bracing for an easy sailing down the stretch, the Elite came out with a huge 20-6 run anchored on Alex Stepheson, Allen Maliksi, Bobby Ray Parks and Mac Belo.

The rally spanning over six minutes enabled the Elite to move within 100-98, with still 11 seconds to go.

A split charity by RJ Jazul with 4.2 seconds gave Phoenix a breathing room at 101-98. Blackwater sued for time to design a game-tying three-point play.

Unfortunately, the Elite failed to carry out their inbound play, with Maliksi failing to catch the ball which went out of bounds.

The Elite thus tumbled to their first loss after a 3-0 start.

Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra has signed up Jared Dillinger after Meralco relegated the tall shooting guard to the unrestricted free agent list.

Meralco officials themselves confirmed the Fil-Am guard’s transfer to the Gin Kings.

According to Meralco team manager Paolo Trillo, Dillinger didn’t inform the Bolts of his move to move to the Gin Kings.

Trillo said there was a gentlemen’s agreement between Meralco and Dillinger that he will not be moving to any team after it relegated him to the unrestricted free agent (UFA) list to make room for new recruit Raymond Almazan on the injured/reserve list while the latter nursed a calf injury.

Dillinger, on the other hand, is still out for two months due to a recurring quad injury.

The scores:

Phoenix (103) - Wright 22, Dozier 18, Jazul 17, Perkins 16, Abueva 13, Mallari 8, Chua 7, Kramer 2, Revilla 0, Intal 0, Marcelo 0, Wilson 0.

Blackwater (98) - Parks 25, Stepheson 24, Belo 12, Sumang 10, Tratter 7, Maliksi 6, Al-Hussaini 6, Digregorio 4, Cortez 2, Alolino 2, Salem 0.

Quarterscores: 15-17, 41-41, 80-71, 103-98.