Fuel Masters smother Warriors in big debut
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – With wide-bodied import Andrew Adeleke drawing defensive help at the post, Phoenix Petroleum frolicked in the open court and poured down 17 three-pointers on NLEX for a 118-106 victory in its maiden game in pro play at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

Adeleke got away with 18 points and 20 rebounds while RR Garcia came through with a career-high 33 points, including six treys, leading the Fuel Masters to a triumphant debut in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup before a good number of cheering Phoenix crowd at the Big Dome.

“It’s history that no one can take away from us,” said Phoenix vice president Raymond Zorrilla.

“We told our team that the company is there backing them up fully. What we want in return is their heart and passion to play the game. They responded in this game and we hope that they respond positively throughout the tournament,” Zorrilla also said.

“The team is pumped up and inspired by the management’s assurance of full support, and we talked about making history of winning our first game,” said Phoenix coach Koy Banal.

JC Intal and Mac Baracael also came out smoking, combining for 6-of-12 three-point shooting and a total of 32 points, helping Phoenix to a flying start in its PBA participation.

Josh Urbiztondo and Mick Pennisi accounted for the team’s four other triples in a hot shooting that made the difference in their conquest of Al Thornton and the Road Warriors, who toppled the Barangay Ginebra Kings Friday.

“Adeleke drew the NLEX defense inside the paint and it opened things up for our shooters,” said Banal.

“That’s the reason why we got Adeleke, for his inside presence. His record speaks for himself. He’s a well-traveled player who consistently gets invites in NBA camps. The problem is he’s not in perfect shape,” Banal added.

The Nigerian import reported a bit late in the Phoenix camp but got help from Liam McMorrow in training. With a break from his team in the Taipei league during the Chinese New Year, McMorrow – a former Barako Bull import – flew in and served briefly as Phoenix’ practice import.

“He put a good challenge on Adeleke, and it helped,” said Banal.

Meralco blew away a 26-point first-half lead but recovered in time, and stretched its perfect winning start to three games with a 98-95 win over Rain or Shine in the nightcap.

“You led by 26 and the import of the other team goes out, and it becomes a tough game. Oh boy,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “But a win is a win. We take any win we can get coming from a 1-10 conference.”

Rain or Shine lost Wayne Chism to a pulled hamstring at the onset of the second half with the E-Painters trailing by 23 at 38-61.

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