Calvin Abueva's all-around game spearheaded the Phoenix Fuel Masters to a 110-103 decision over the TNT Tropang Giga, leveling their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal battle at one win apiece Friday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena.
Abueva registered 20 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists. He also added two steals and made 11-of-15 free throws. Jason Perkins was just as superb, tallying 21 points, as he made crucial baskets late. Matthew Wright, who was still nursing an injured ankle, started the game for Phoenix and scored two points in just 15 minutes of action.
"It's always a joy to see Calvin be a different beast right now," said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson. "He knows that Matt is not a hundred percent. When he wasn't around, Matt was there for him. Now that Matt's not here, he's the one stepping up.
"Matt wants to extend the series and we really offer this game to Matt. We were telling him not to play but he said he wants to play so we want to honor him. It's a big win for us to get our bearings back."
Phoenix overcame a career performance from TNT's Ray Parks who had 41 points built on 10 triples. Parks had the hot hand right from the opening tip, scorching the net with six treys in the first quarter alone, but fouled out with roughly five minutes left in the contest. He went 13-of-22 from the field, missing only four times from beyond the arc.
The Fuel Masters had control in the first half as Parks kept TNT in the game single-handedly. Phoenix caught fire in the second quarter and jumped to a lead as high as 18 points but a buzzer-beating trey from Simon Enciso helped TNT go into the half down by just 15, 65-40.
TNT woke up in the third quarter and began trimming down the lead. Playing with a sense of urgency, the Tropang Giga cut the deficit to three, 75-72, after a basket from Jay Washington. The Fuel Masters were able to counter and push the advantage back to 11, before settling for an 86-80 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Troy Rosario's basket finally gave TNT the lead in the final canto, 92-90, but its comeback bid was dealt a huge blow after Parks fouled out. Perkins took over the scoring load, scoring nine points in the period, while Abueva was hustling on both ends of the floor as Phoenix regained order. RR Garcia's layup put his team ahead by 10, 107-97, with under a minute remaining team, and essentially sealed the win.
Simon Enciso ended up with 14 points for TNT while Rosario had a double-double outing of 10 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.
After the loss two nights ago, Robinson urged the Fuel Masters to come out stronger.
"We just talked about the one percent. Coming into this game, just give one percent more from that last game because it was a one-possession ball game," said Robinson after Phoenix lost by just three points in the series opener. "We don't want to shake the boat because I think we did what we were supposed to do during Game 1. We were just encouraging our players just to give that one percent, just focusing on Game 2."
PHOENIX 110 - Perkins 21, Abueva 20, Chua 18, Jazul 16, Garcia 12, Heruela 10, Mallari 9, Wright 2, Rios 2, Intal 0, Marcelo 0, Napoles 0, Gamboa 0
TNT 103 - Parks 41, Enciso 14, Pogoy 13, Erram 10, Rosario 10, Castro 9, Washington 4, Reyes 2, Semerad 0, Montalbo 0, Carey 0
Quarters : 28-27, 60-45, 86-60, 110-103
- Justin Chua only had three points in Game 1 but bounced back with 18 points and eight boards.
- TNT committed 20 turnovers which ended up as 30 points for Phoenix.
Game 3 on Sunday, Nov. 22, at 4:00 p.m.