Matthew Wright's baseline fade-away triple in the dying seconds of overtime lifted Phoenix over the Blackwater Elite, 120-117, and helped the Fuel Masters salvage some pride in its final game of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tied at 117 with two ticks left after Roi Sumang converted on a three-point play in the prior possession, Wright pivoted to the right after receiving the inbound off a timeout and drained the game-winner over the outstretched arms of two Elite defenders to help his side end the season on a high note and send teammate Doug Kramer into retirement with a win.
Wright's heroics in the overtime period was actually a continuation of his clutch play in regulation, where he caught fire late and sank three straight 3s to help Phoenix overhaul a nine-point deficit in the final 46 seconds.
Down 9, the Fuel Masters exploded for eight straight points, with two Wright treys there cutting the lead to 1, 107-106, with 16 seconds to go. Roi Sumang hit two free throws on the other end, but Wright then drained a tough 3 on the right wing off screens to send it to overtime, where he negated Sumang's insurance shots from the line to win it all.
Wright ended up with 28 points on 10-for-22 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal to help Phoenix arrest a four-game winning streak and end the season-ending conference with a 3-8 card.
"At least we ended on a winning note. That's what they wanted for Doug Kramer's retirement game," coach Louie Alas said after jokingly referring to the win as a "championship game."
Kramer wrapped up a 12-year career and punctuated it with a strong line of 3 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.
But if not for Wright, who poured in 20 of his points in the payoff period and overtime, Phoenix wouldn't have been able to give Kramer a good exit as the sweet-shooting Elite drained five triples in the third quarter to turn a one-point halftime lead into a 13-point cushion, 74-61, in the latter part of the frame.
"Doug, he really deserved it," Wright said. "Before this game I told Doug there's no way we're gonna lose the last game of his career. It seemed really bleak in the fourth quarter and I was honestly ready to give up. But something told me inside to just fight to the end, just end on a positive note. We somehow made shots, I somehow made all the tough ones and missed the easy ones. But I'm happy the last one went in.
"I told him before, I said this shot is for you man. Maybe it's just Doug's day today. It's a special day for him, he deserves it. I just wanted to send him off on the right foot."
Alonzo Gee topped the Fuel Masters in scoring with 34 points to go along with his 12 boards and 7 dimes, while RR Garcia and Alex Mallari tossed in 17 and 10, respectively.
Alas said he and the rest of Phoenix management will have a lot of planning and conversations to initiate after following up a promising start in the Philippine Cup early in the season with two consecutive dismal conferences.
"The bottomline is we're losing. We need to arrest that. We're gonna have to talk about plans. If we don't have any, we shouldn't keep playing anymore because this result will keep cropping up," Alas said. "We need to make some drastic action. We have a lot in mind, but we need to consolidate them first."
On the other end, Marqus Blakely paced Blackwater's attack with 37 points while adding 17 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Mac Belo also chipped in 25 points, 6 boards, 3 steals and 2 assists as the Elite (2-9) ended the year with a six-game losing skid.
Phoenix 120 -- Gee 34, Wright 28, Garcia 17, Mallari 10, Intal 9, Chua 9, Perkins 4, Jazul 3, Kramer 3, Napoles 2, Gamboa 1, Marcelo 0.
Blackwater 117 -- Blakely 37, Belo 25, Canaleta 12, Sumang 10, Tolomia 9, Cruz 7, Dario 6, Salem 6, Trollano 5, Desiderio 0, Al-Hussaini 0, Javier 0.
Quarterscores: 22-16, 45-46, 73-81, 109-109, 120-117.
- Alonzo Gee was also able to register his first win with Phoenix after the result.
- Blackwater blew an overwhelming lead in bench points, 67-34, and a solid mark from downtown (14-for-40, 35 percent) in the loss.