Phoenix gets back at Magnolia, drags semis series into Game 4

Phoenix notched its 100th franchise win in dramatic fashion.

Down 0-2 and facing elimination in their best-of-five semifinal series, the Fuel Masters displayed grit and rallied from a 21-point deficit to stun Magnolia 103-85 and force a Game 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, January 28.

Led by veteran captain RJ Jazul, Phoenix’s local players rose to the occasion to fuel the comeback after 10 straight losses to Magnolia dating back to 2020. Jazul knocked down 5 three-pointers to finish with 17 points, while four other locals scored in double figures to support import Johnathan Williams’ game-highs of 19 points and 15 rebounds.

“We did not want to go home,” said Jazul. “We do it together. Everyone is important.”

After trailing 38-51 at halftime, Williams took over in the third quarter with 11 points to help the Fuel Masters grab a 71-67 lead. Jazul then caught fire in the fourth, nailing three straight treys to stretch the advantage to 85-71. It was Phoenix’s most lopsided victory over Magnolia all conference, handing the Hotshots just their third loss.

Unexpectedly, Sean Manganti delivered a conference-high 14 points off the bench for the Fuel Masters. Jason Perkins added 13 points on perfect 6-6 free throw shooting.

Now 2-0 in must-win games this post-season after surviving an earlier sudden death, Phoenix lives to fight another day against the favored Hotshots.

“It is the 100th win for the franchise and we’re just happy that we got it,” said Phoenix head coach Jamike Jarin during the post-game presser. “100th win for the franchise and we got it in the semifinals. I’m just happy for the franchise and for everybody.”

Tyler Bey paced Magnolia with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva chipped in 17 and 14 points respectively.

The Hotshots enjoyed a 47-26 lead before being outscored 77-38 in the second half by the resilient Fuel Masters.

The scores:

Phoenix 103 – Williams 19, Jazul 17, Manganti 14, Tuffin 14, Mocon 14, Perkins 13, Rivero 6, Tio 4, Verano 2, Muyang 0, Lalata 0, Garcia 0, Alejandro 0, Camacho.

Magnolia 85 – Bey 18, Lee 17, Abueva 14, Sangalang 10, Barroca 7, Ahanmisi 6, JReavis 4, alalon 4, Dela Rosa 2, Dionisio 2, Mendoza 0, Tratter 0, Eriobu 0.

Quarterscores: 17-31, 38-51, 71-67, 103-85.

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