Still hobbled by an ankle injury he suffered in Game 1 of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, Matthew Wright was able to brush it off in helping the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters move within one game of the franchise's first-ever Finals appearance.
Wright played through the pain and once again unraveled in the clutch to help deliver his side a hard-fought 92-89 victory over the TNT Tropang Giga to take a commanding 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five affair Sunday evening at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
Wright, who had scored just 2 points each in the first two games, dropped 25 points, including a clutch turnaround jumper over Roger Pogoy that defined the final score with 22.6 ticks remaining. TNT, which had a chance to tie the game, came up short multiple times after misses from Pogoy and Jayson Castro.
"Matthew just said to me that he doesn't care that he has a bad ankle or not. He will not give it as an excuse to not perform and he just said, 'Call my name coach and I'll contribute.' And that's what Matthew is, not letting go of this opportunity and platform to really inspire a lot of people," Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson said after the game.
TNT tried to pull away quickly in the first quarter, but were just able to build as large as a five-point lead, 17-12, 10 of which were courtesy of Simon Enciso. The Tropang Giga went ahead after the opening chapter, 24-22. In the second quarter, Wright and Calvin Abueva started to go to work, and found their marks from the outside, scoring a combined 19 markers in the quarter alone. Phoenix led at intermission, 49-47.
After halftime, Wright continued to bury absurd three pointers, and Phoenix was able to create some separation to erect a 10-point lead, 71-61, after RJ Jazul's three, but the Tropang Giga were feisty enough to pull within four, 73-69, after an 8-2 run to close the quarter.
TNT was able to claw within a solitary point numerous times, but the Fuel Masters responded every time. Pogoy was able to knot things up at 77 at the 6:08 mark, but Jason Perkins answered with a three of his own to go ahead, 80-77.
A few minutes after, Wright was able to push the lead to seven, 88-81, but the Tropang Giga slowly chipped off the lead via an 8-2 run, punctuated by Bobby Ray Parks Jr's tip-in to come within one, 90-89, with 40.8 left.
Abueva had himself a great night, posting all-around figures of 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists. On the other side, Parks, who lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 41 in Game 2, had a respectable 19. Enciso chipped in 16.
Phoenix (92) -- Wright 25, Abueva 24, Perkins 11, Jazul 11, Chua 8, Intal 5, Napoles 3, Rios 3, Mallari 2, Heruela 0, Gamboa 0, Reyes 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, De Leon 00, Alejandro 0, Semerad 0, Vosotros 0, Flores 0.
Quarter Scores: 22-24, 49-47, 73-69, 92-89
- Calvin Abueva's team improved to 8-2 -- 3-0 with Phoenix -- whenever he scores 24 points or more, per league head statistician Fidel Mangonon, III.
- Jayson Castro only made 3 of his 12 field goal attempts and 5 of 12 free throws en route to a 12-point outing.
Game 4 on Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 6:30 p.m.