PHOENIX turned to defense and a perfectly executed offensive play in the end to escape with a 74-72 win over TNT KaTropa to get back on the winning track in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Doug Kramer hit the game-winning floater off a pick-and-roll with Matthew Wright with three seconds left as the Fuel Masters fought back from a double-digit deficit to frustrate the Texters in a defensive, grind-out battle.
Before that, Wright knocked down a catch-and-shoot three-pointer in the same exact play to knot the count at 72 that set the stage for the sophomore gunner rewarding Kramer’s screen in the next offensive play.
“I told Matt they will stay home on you (this time), so you have to read kung anong depensa, so it was a good play for Matt,” Phoenix coach Louie Alas said.
The Fuel Masters thus atoned for a 93-75 blowout loss to Alaska last week to move back up to .500 with a 4-4 win-loss record and tie the Texters in the 12-team standings.
“Ang main concern ko dito, after a big win, parang nagdi-dip yung performance namin, so yun yung kailangan namin i-arrest,” Alas continued.
For a while, though, the Fuel Masters’ performance also seemed to be lackluster after blowout losses as they fell into an early 13-point hole against the Texters and were still down by 11 points, 55-44, late in the third quarter.
But that’s when Phoenix started its rise and made a comeback in the payoff period, tying the count on that Wright triple with 44 seconds left, before making key stops on Jayson Castro and Kelly Williams.
The Fuel Masters defended Castro and Williams well all-game long, with the former contributing just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting and committing five errors, and the latter adding just eight points in 3-of-10 shooting in 28 minutes.
Wright registered a game-high 16 points, five boards, three steals, and two assists in almost 37 minutes, while Jeff Chan and Gelo Alolino were the other two Fuel Masters who scored in twin digits.
Kramer finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, seven boards, two assists, and one steal, without committing a single turnover in 27 minutes as a starter.
PHX 74 – Wright 16, Chan 11, Alolino 10, Perkins 8, Kramer 8, Wilson 8, Jazul 5, Chua 4, Mendoza 4, Revilla 0, Intal 0, Eriobu 0, Cortes 0, Dehesa 0
TNT 72 – Semerad 12, Pogoy 10, Tautuaa 9, Castro 9, Williams 8, Reyes 5, Tamsi 5, Carey 4, Rosario 4, Garcia 3, Torres 3
Quarterscores: 20-24, 30-40, 56-61, 74-72