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Phoenix stays hot

Four straight games and counting and Phoenix continued to go the extra mile in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.

The Fuel Masters stretched their winning streak to four as they added Rain or Shine to their growing list of victims, 92-83, on Wednesday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

It was the first time since the end of the Clark bubble elimination round that the Fuel Masters were able to win four in a row to improve their win-loss record to 4-3.

For eight minutes, the Fuel Masters held the Elasto Painters without a field goal in the third period, allowing them to rip the game wide open en route to the impressive victory.

The Fuel Masters posted their biggest lead at 18, 68-50, during the third-quarter onslaught as their defense worked double time, shutting down the big guns of the Elasto Painters.

In return, Phoenix coach Topex Robinson and his boys unloaded an 11-4 exchange with RJ Jazul and import Kaleb Wesson joining forces.

Encho Serrano tallied a season-high 18 points as he spearheaded the Fuel Masters’ firepower while fellow rookie Tyler Tio, their top gunner in the previous game, took a backseat on offense.

But Serrano’s performance was complemented by Wesson, who simply overpowered his counterpart, Steve Taylor Jr., in their head-to-head duel.

Wesson already had 20 points by the end of the third quarter, before he was saddled by foul troubles. He ended up with 21 points and 17 boards to go along with five blocks as he typified the Fuel Masters’ solid defensive presence all game long.

Taylor, on the other hand, had only 16 points across his name, although he pulled down 19 rebounds.

So tough was Phoenix’s defense that it held Rain or Shine to just 34 percent shooting from the field (28-of-81).

For Robinson, facing Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao — his former mentor — is an opportunity he always looks forward to. Together, they won a championship with Barako Bull in the 2006 Fiesta Conference.

As coaches, however, Robinson has been getting the better end of his match up with the seven-time champion coach. In five meetings, Robinson’s team had won four times.

“I’ve always been with Coach Yeng and he is always giving emphasis on being mentally tough,” Robinson said.

“I’m just passing on what I’ve learned from Coach Yeng to handle the situation of being mentally tough and try to hold on to this opportunity. Anytime you play against a Coach Yeng Guiao-mentored team, you always have to be tough.”

Winning over Guiao, according to Robinson, is always a privilege, as it meant beating the best version of himself.

“If you’re going to peel my skin, you’re going to see Yeng Guiao in me. The moment I came into the league back in 2003, I already know I’m going to be a coach. I don’t know why I was thinking that way, but everything he wrote down on the board, I always write it down,” Robinson said.

“There were no smart phones back then, but I don’t know why, but everything that he said, I still remember them because I want to be that person.”

“What other people don’t see is everybody loves him and everybody will fight for him. Now that I’m a coach, I told myself I’m going to give these players a chance because it was Yeng Guiao who gave me a chance. That’s my way of paying forward.”

The Scores:
PHOENIX (92) — Wesson 21, Serrano 18, Jazul 11, Anthony 9, Pascual 8, Manganti 7, Mocon 5, Tio 5, Rios 4, Adamos 2, Robles 2, Camacho 0, Lojera 0, Lalata 0, Garcia 0.
RAIN OR SHINE (83) — Taylor Jr. 16, Mamuyac 14, Nambatac 12, Asistio 9, Belga 8, Caracut 5, Demusis 5, Norwood 5, Ponferrada 5, Santillan 2, Borboran 2, Nieto 0.
QUARTERS: 19-22, 48-42, 72-59, 92-83.

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