SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Matthew Wright came up big in the endgame to tow Phoenix Super LPG past TNT, 92-89, in Game Three of their 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series, Sunday at AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
The Fil-Canadian gunner got rid of Roger Pogoy’s defense and sank a turnaround jumper with 22,6 seconds left to play, striking the dagger as the Fuel Masters went on to take the 2-1 lead in the race-to-three affair.
Wright is still nursing a right ankle injury but he played without restrictions this time around. He logged 33 minutes and finished with a game-high 25 points on a 52-percent clip, on top of three rebounds and three assists.
“His ankle is still the same, still swollen, masakit pa rin. But sabi niya nga, “If I’m not gonna play now, when will I play?’ His ankle could wait after this bubble to hurt,” said head coach Topex Robinson post-game.
“At this time, he cannot let his team down. The team needs him, and he knows he needs to be there. We could all make an excuse not to play, but he let it go, and he said he’s just gonna let it fly,” he added.
Calvin Abueva was in his element yet again, registering 24 points that saw him go 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also collected 12 boards for another double-double outing, along with six dimes, four steals, and a block.
Eighteen of his points came in the first half, where he and Wright connived for 28 points as they helped the Fuel Masters overcome a 22-27 deficit and turn it to a 49-47 advantage by the intermission.
“He’s really in it to give his best, and kasama kasi dun ‘yung him making mistakes. You just have to encourage him, because you know that he’s a winner. He’s gonna find ways to win,” Robinson said of Abueva.
Jason Perkins and RJ Jazul each chimed in 11 markers for Phoenix, who is now a win away from the Philippine Cup Finals and will have the opportunity to accomplish such feat in Game Four on Wednesday.
Jazul was the one who gave the Fuel Masters a 71-61 lead through a three-pointer with less than four minutes left in the third canto, but the Tropang Giga didn’t allow them to break the game wide open.
It then went on a 16-6 blitz — punctuated by Pogoy triple — to tie things up at 77-all with 6:07 remaining in the final chapter. However, a Perkins trey shortly after gave the lead back to Phoenix.
TNT didn’t stop trying but Perkins, Wright, and Justin Chua were there to give answers to its every attempt. Wright’s trey off a sizeup dribble at the left wing pushed the Fuel Masters’ lead to seven, 88-81, with 3:02 to go.
The Tropang Giga managed to cut it to just a point after Ray Parks tipped in his own miss — over a phalanx of Phoenix defenders — with 40.8 ticks left, but Wright was not to be denied as his heroics came into play after that.
Coach Bong Ravena’s chargers then tried to tie the game up, but both shots of Pogoy and Jayson Castro from deep clanged off the rim. Chua tapped the ball away after Castro’s miss as Phoenix went on to bag the W.
“Just like what we mentioned at the start of the conference, we just want to be the best versions of ourselves. No matter what the game is, it is always about just trying to enjoy,” Robinson said.
Parks — who had 41 points back in Game Two — had 19 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists to lead TNT. Simon Enciso made 16 points built on five threes, while Troy Rosario supplied 14 markers and seven boards.
Phoenix Super LPG (92) – Wright 25, Abueva 24, Jazul 11, Perkins 11, Chua 8, Intal 5, Napoles 3, Rios 3, Mallari 2, Garcia 0, Marcelo 0, Heruela 0, Gamboa 0.
TNT (89) – Parks 19, Enciso 16, Rosario 14 , Castro 12, Pogoy 8, Reyes 5, Erram 6, Montalbo 6, Washington 3, Carey 0.
Quarterscores: 22-24, 49-47, 73-69, 92-89.