Alejandro took charge when it mattered most.
The Phoenix Fuel Masters opened their PBA Season 48 campaign with a rousing comeback win over the NLEX Road Warriors on Friday at the Smart Araneta Center.
And, like in most Phoenix wins, the team got plenty of contributions from a bevy of players. Ricci Rivero showed his high-flying game can translate in the PBA, while Ken Tuffin showcased why he was a lottery pick in most mock drafts. Tyler Tio was solid again, while Javee Mocon looked healthy finally.
There was also that well-timed explosion from guard Jjay Alejandro.
The former NU Bulldog fired 15 of his 18 points in the fourth period, none bigger than the nine straight points he scored—all on triples—to start the final canto that turned an eight-point deficit, 86-78, into a one-point lead. The Fuel Masters never looked back from there.
Alejandro’s Klay Thompson-like explosion, to casuals, is probably a big surprise. But not to Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin. Certainly not to Alejandro himself.
“With Jjay, I think everybody forgets he was Mythical Five in the UAAP in his final year, so he’s capable of really producing…,” Jarin pointed out in the postgame presser. “I’m fortunate enough to be with him because I coached him in his final year in NU, so meron na rin talaga kaming relationship in how we handle things and how we do things.”
How things are in a Jarin-helmed squad is pretty simple: Everyone gets their chance. Alejandro simply made the most of his against NLEX.
“Sobrang deep ng team namin, so anyone could step up. Even though limited minutes, you have to play your best,” he said in the same presser, where he admitted that he would occasionally take on the leadership mantle for Phoenix—something everyone else can do freely as is Jarin’s liking.
That depth will be tested big time on Sunday when the Fuel Masters take on the red-hot Magnolia Hotshots
at the Ynares Center. NLEX, meanwhile, will try to bounce back next Saturday, November 18, when they face off versus the Terrafirma Dyip.