Bobby Ray Parks took over as the TNT Tropang Giga edged the Phoenix Super LPG for a 102-101 victory to force a decisive Game 5 in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Wednesday at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
The Tropang Giga got a big game from Parks to survive a late comeback attempt by Phoenix in the fourth. Parks carried the Tropang Giga with 36 points on 10-for-16 shooting while adding six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 46 minutes of play.
Parks also went 5-for-8 from downtown and scored 12 of TNT's last 14 points, including a pair of foul shots that gave the Tropang Giga a 100-95 lead with four seconds left to pull the plug on any Phoenix attempt at a comeback late in the game.
"It's more of a team effort at the end of the day. It's not just me. Everybody played their part," Parks said during the walk-off interview. "And we know that Phoenix is such a great team --they're physical, they're well-coached, they have talent --so it's gonna take walking the walk in order to try and beat them, especially in a series of five."
Backing up Parks was Jayson Castro, who finished with 21 points and five assists in a surprise start, and Roger Pogoy, who bucked a bad shooting night (6-for-21) to wind up with 18 points. Simon Enciso also threw in 14 markers.
"Our main goal was to just simply win the game, make the series even," coach Bong Ravena said after the game. "Hopefully we can continue on Game 5 on Friday."
An 8-0 start dictated the tempo for TNT, which comfortably led by 10 at the half behind strong starts from Castro and Parks.
But Phoenix, wanting to end things and enter the finals for the first time in franchise history, nearly turned it around completely in a strong third quarter performance that nearly blew the tires off of TNT's offense. Down 16, 66-50, past the halfway mark, the Fuel Masters unleashed a vicious 18-3 run behind Matthew Wright, who fired 11 of his 18 third-quarter points during that run to help the Fuel Masters enter the payoff period down by just one, 69-68.
The Tropang Giga would later get some breathing room in the fourth as Enciso (two threes), Pogoy (two) and Parks hit five triples to open the quarter for TNT and make it a nine-point game, 84-75.
Though TNT held a double-digit lead for most of the period, it still had to weather a couple of scares from a Phoenix team that just didn't go down that easily.
Fortunately for the Tropang Giga, Parks was there to shut the door on any Phoenix uprising.
When the Fuel Masters pulled within four after a pair of threes from RJ Jazul and Jason Perkins, as well as two free throws from Justin Chua, sliced the lead to 96-92 with 1:24 remaining, Parks hit a stepback jumper that would serve as the lone field goal for both teams for over a minute.
After a Perkins triple cut it to 98-95 with six seconds left, Parks coolly sank two from the line to give TNT a five-point cushion that would prove to be enough of a buffer.
Phoenix, though, still put up a gallant stand behind Wright, who played 44 minutes and scored 34 points and seven threes while handing out nine assists and five rebounds in a very impressive outing.
Perkins had 19 points, while Calvin Abueva tallied 17 and 13 boards, though he did have eight turnovers.
Ravena said he expects a dogfight against Phoenix come Friday.
"There's nothing to celebrate. Our goal was to even the series," he said. "But we have to be ready for Phoenix also. We respect them so much. We know they can play, they can finish the game. We're not gonna relax. The longer the series is, the harder it is for us. So we have to want that game so bad. We have to work hard and really want that game."
TNT 102 -- Parks 36, Castro 21, Pogoy 18, Enciso 14, Washington 6, Erram 4, Montalbo 3 , De Leon 0, Reyes 0, Semerad 0, Rosario 0, Vosotros 0.
Phoenix 101 -- Wright 34, Perkins 19, Abueva 17, Jazul 11, Chua 10, Garcia 4, Rios 4, Heruela 2, Intal 0, Mallari 0, Napoles 0.
Quarters: 21-12, 48-38, 69-68, 102-101.
- Troy Rosario (0 points, 0-for-6, seven rebounds in 23 minutes) and Poy Erram (four points, one rebound, 13 minutes) struggled and played sparingly against the Fuel Masters. Said Ravena: "We still believe in Poy and Troy. We know they'll break out of this slump. We're not giving up on them. They're still part of the rotation."
- TNT shot hit 18-for-46 threes (39.1 percent) in a shootout against Phoenix, which hit four less threes but was a little more accurate (14-for-34, 41.2 percent).
- Phoenix had just 12 points in the opening quarter. Abueva had six of those and went 3-for-5, but the rest of the Fuel Masters were 1-for-13.
Game 5 on Friday, Nov. 27, at 3:45 p.m.