Behind a surprising Kevin Racal explosion, the Alaska Aces snuffed out the flames of the Phoenix Fuel Masters en route to a 106-85 victory, booking them a ticket to the Philippine Cup Quarter Finals.
Even before the first half ended, the Fuel Masters were forced to run on fumes as their big men were held down with major foul trouble. Phoenix big Norbert Torres skipped a big part of the 2nd quarter because of 3 personal fouls, but their front court wore even thinner when Prince Caperal and Michael Miranda were forced to sit out the remainder of the half after being called for unsportsmanlike fouls.
The veteran laden Aces quickly took advantage of their opponent’s disarray, pushing the lead to 18 by halftime.
But the Fuel Masters, though running on fumes, were still running. Refusing to go quietly into the night, Matthew Wright led a furious 16-9 run for Phoenix, cutting the Alaska lead down to 11 after scoring the first 16 of Phoenix in the second half.
Yet the night belonged to Alaska’s Kevin Racal, who rallied the Alaska charge and led them away from Phoenix’s impending comeback. Racal finished with 20 points on 5 of 8 field goal shooting while making his way to line to sink 8 of 10 attempts.
In the final quarter, Phoenix could only watch as their efforts sputtered out, succumbing to the battle-hardened veterans of Alaska, Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, going crazy as Marion Magat stretched the lead to 25 before the final buzzer.
The Aces have booked a ticket to the Philippine Quarter Finals, while the loss puts the Phoenix Fuel Masters right in the traffic jam for survival.