Imports Eugene Phelps and Greg Smith put up monstrous numbers for their respective teams but it was Phelps’ Phoenix Fuel Masters that came out on top over the Blackwater Elite, 118-116, after two overtimes in the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Phelps tallied 53 points on 59-percent shooting from the field alongside 21 rebounds and five blocks to outduel his Blackwater counterpart Smith, who finished with 37 points and 30 rebounds in his PBA debut.
The Phoenix import just had more in the crucial endgame, though, as he scored six of his team’s eight points in the second overtime period.
JC Intal added 11 points while Cyrus Baguio and Willy Wilson each chipped in with 10 points for the Fuel Masters, who missed the services of rookie Matthew Wright in this one.
Phoenix seemed like it would run away with the game after opening the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to take a double-digit lead, 85-75.
But Blackwater battled back into it thanks to Smith and Mac Belo, who combined to score eight of the Elite’s points in a 13-2 rally.
Smith’s basket inside with 5:56 remaining allowed Blackwater to take the lead, 88-87, heading into the final stretch. A three-pointer from Mike DiGregorio a few minutes later made it a three-point game, 92-89, for the Elite.
Phelps then took over. He knocked down two free throws as his Fuel Masters inched closer, 92-91. Wilson knocked down a huge three-pointer from the corner before Phelps showed his defensive chops, swatting a shot attempt from Smith before making two more charities on the other end, 96-92.
But the import duel wasn’t over just yet as Smith went right at Phelps again, this time netting a huge and-one with the extra free throw making it a one-point game again.
RJ Jazul then made a crucial turnover, making a soft pass that was picked off by Belo, who found a streaking DiGregorio for a fastbreak layup that again put Blackwater ahead, 97-96.
Phelps took that right back with a layup, 98-97, but Belo again found DiGregorio for another big shot, this one a three-pointer that made it 100-98 for the Elite with 1:05 remaining.
The Phoenix import had the chance to put his team ahead after scoring off an inbound pass and fishing a foul but he missed the free throw. He made sure, though, that Blackwater would not sneak away with the win in regulation as he hounded Smith on the final possession and got a block that sent the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, Phoenix led by as many as four points after a three-point play from Phelps but Smith made two crucial baskets, including a bank shot with 36 seconds left that forced a 110-110 deadlock as the game went into a second extra period.
The Fuel Masters, though, created some breathing room after back-to-back baskets from Phelps and a fastbreak finish from Mark Borboran, 116-112.
DiGregorio then split on the other end before Phelps bullied his way inside for two more points, 118-113.
Blackwater’s Roi Sumang gave his team a glimmer of hope after making a big three and Phelps missed two free throw attempts with 13 seconds left but the Elite just could not get the basket they needed in the end.
Belo finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Blackwater but that wasn’t enough for them in this one.