Rookie Ricci Rivero took center stage for several stretches in his first game in the Philippine Basketball Association, but it was veteran guard Jay Alejandro who grabbed the spotlight when mattered the most as Phoenix Super LPG completed its comeback from 15 points down to turn back NLEX, 113-101, in the Commissioner’s Cup Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alejandro caught fire and hit six three-point shots while Rivero, one of two second round picks, but turned out to be a gem, made key contributions in his debut game.
He and fellow newcomer, first-round pick Ken Tuffin, combined for 31 points as the Fuel Masters reverted to their template of turning rookies to immediate impact players overnight.
The Fuel Masters opened the fourth period trailing, 78-86, but Alejandro opened the quarter hitting three straight triples that sparked a murderous 24-4 tun and allowed Phoenix Super LPG to take a commanding 102-90 advantage following a trey from Tuffin midway the final frame.
Curiously, NLEX import Thomas Robinson wasn’t in the game when the Fuel Masters were able to turn things around and head coach Frankie Lim opted not to bring him back after being pulled out early in the fourth.