PHOENIX showed the character that was missing in recent games as it stunned Meralco, 94-90, in their Philippine Cup match on Wednesday in a rare PBA laydate at The Arena in San Juan.
Cyrus Baguio knocked down the triple that put them on top for good after being down by double digits, before Matthew Wright hit three insurance charities – part of his 17 points in the payoff period – as the Fuel Masters snapped a two-game skid where they lost by an average of 31.5 points.
The Fuel Masters prevailed without sidelined stars JC Intal and Willy Wilson as they moved back to .500 with a 3-3 win-loss card, while dropping the Bolts to 2-3.
“I’m just relieved,” a teary-eyed Fuel Masters coach Ariel Vanguardia said. “It was sleepless night for all of us, but I just challenged the guys.”
“It’s probably God’s gift to us,” he added after they held a “silent” team Christmas party a few nights ago amid the recent struggles.
The rookie Wright spearheaded the come-from-behind win, catching fire in the final frame as he finished with 22 points, one more than his previous high he registered three games back.
His splendid showing negated that of a fellow rookie in Jonathan Grey, who tallied a game-high 24 points, four boards, and two assists in just 23 minutes off the bench for Meralco.
Mark Borboran stepped up in the absence of Intal (ribs) and Wilson (bum stomach), adding 17 points, eight boards, three assists, and two blocks in 39 minutes for Phoenix.
The Fuel Masters were down, 59-71, late in the third quarter and ended the quarter staring at a 10-point deficit, but buckled down to work by outscoring the Bolts, 29-14, in the final frame.
PHOENIX 94 – Wright 22, Borboran 17, Baguio 11, Alolino 11, Enciso 7, J.Wilson 7, Torres 6, Caperal 5, Hayes 4, Lanete 4, Javillonar 0, Miranda 0
MERALCO 90 – Grey 24, Hugatan 15, Hodge 12, Daquioag 11, Yeo 9, Amer 7, Nabong 4, Newsome 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Caram 2, Chua 2, Uyloan 0
Quarterscores: 22-19, 45-44, 65-75, 94-90