Phoenix finally spread its wings and soared to a breakthrough win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, thanks to a career outing from spitfire rookie guard Tyler Tio.
Picking up from where he left off the previous game against guest team Bay Area Dragons where he posted a league career-best, Tio notched his gears higher and lifted the Fuel Masters to a huge 111-97 win over erstwhile unbeaten NLEX.
The former Blue Eagle lit it up the scoreboard with a new career-high 26 points on 5-of-10 mark from downtown to go along with seven assists (also a career-high) and a rebound in 33 minutes of play as Phoenix rose from the ashes to barge into the win column after four tries.
His stellar play included an 18-point eruption in the second half, where the Fuel Masters ripped the game wide open to hand NLEX its first defeat, thus earning him the Cignal Play–PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period Oct. 5-9.
Tio, the no. 14th pick in the last draft, credited his mentor Topex Robinson for the trust and confidence given him in only his second conference in the league.
“He has been giving me confidence since Day 1. That is huge for a player. Sometimes, all you need is confidence and opportunity. Coach Topex gave that and I just want to repay the trust that he gave me,” said Tio, who finished with 21 points in the team’s 101-91 loss to the Dragons the last time.
More than that, it’s the way Tio and the rest of the Fuel Masters conducted themselves in taking care of business amid the uncertainties hounding their mother company, Phoenix Petroleum.
“We just focused on what we can control as a team. And I think the outside noise, there is nothing we can do about it,” he said. “As professionals, we just tell ourselves and our teammates to do our jobs and that was what we did.”
Tio was the unanimous choice for the weekly award though his teammate Javee Mocon, Barangay Ginebra’s Jamie Malonzo and Magnolia’s Calvin Abueva were also considered for the weekly honor being handed out by the group covering the PBA beat.
Other players nominated for the citation were Blackwater’s Baser Amer, Mike Ayonayon and Troy Rosario, Magnolia’s Paul Lee, Meralco’s Allein Maliksi, Bong Quinto, and Aaron Black, Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger and Scottie Thompson, RR Pogoy of TNT, and San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez.