MATTHEW Wright regained his deadly form despite nursing an injury, Calvin Abueva had another double-double and Phoenix Super LPG grabbed the lead in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals after a 92-89 win over TNT on Sunday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
Playing through an ankle injury again but braving on with longer minutes, Wright came away with 23 points including the dagger turnaround jumper off Roger Pogoy in the Game Three victory that moved the Fuel Masters on the cusp of a maiden appearance in the PBA Finals.
The do-it-all Abueva was a bundle of energy once more, finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and four steals for the Dennis Uy-owned franchise, which has been playing inspired basketball since the return of 'The Beast' from a 16-month suspension.
Phoenix hacked out the hard-earned win after deciding not to practice on Saturday to rest aching bodies.
“Yesterday, we didn’t practice. We talked about acknowledging that we are tired and we are hurt and knowing that it’s a long series. By saying that, we are eliminating all excuses. Acknowledge it and let it go because you’ll never know when you’ll get this chance once again,” said head coach Topex Robinson.
There were no suych excuse for Wright, who showed no signs of an injury he suffered in the series opener.
Wright was incredible from downtown, converting five threes including one at the 2:58 mark that increased the Fuel Masters’ lead to 88-81.
With the lead down to one, Wright shook off Pogoy, one of the best defenders in the league, to score on a turnaround basket with 22.6 seconds left that settled the final score.
Without a benefit of a timeout, TNT scampered on its final possession and never got a good look at a tying trey.
Phoenix totalled 18 three-pointers in the match, four of them from Abueva, all of which came in the first half. Abueva already had 18 points in the first half, helping the Fuel Masters take a 49-47 lead at halftime.
Jason Perkins and RJ Jazul each had 11 points. Perkins found Jazul wide open at the right corner for a three that increased Phoenix’s lead to 10, 71-61, the biggest in the match.
Perkins also converted a crucial two-pointer with 51.3 seconds left as Phoenix kept its slim lead, 90-87, before Wright finished off TNT.
Bobby Ray Parks compiled 19 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists, while Simon Enciso had 16 points. But the Tropang Giga must regroup as they face elimination from the Smart Clark Giga City-PBA bubble.
Phoenix Super LPG 92 – Wright 25, Abueva 24, Perkins 11, Jazul 11, Chua 8, Intal 5, Napoles 3, Rios 3, Mallari 2, Heruela 0, Gamboa 0, Marcelo 0, Garcia 0.
TNT 89 – Parks 19, Enciso 16, Rosario 14, Castro 12, Pogoy 8, Erram 6, Montalbo 6, Reyes 5, Washington 3, Carey 0, Semerad 0.
Quarters: 22-24; 49-47; 73-69; 92-89.