MANILA - (UPDATED) Showing no ill-effects from the ankle injury that he suffered in Game 1, Matthew Wright came up big for Phoenix Super LPG in Game 3 of their 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against TNT Tropang Giga, Sunday at the AUF Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Wright fired 25 points, including the dagger jump shot with a little over seconds left, powering the Fuel Masters to a 92-89 triumph that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Fuel Masters are now on the brink of the Philippine Cup Finals, while putting TNT -- one of the favorites heading into the conference -- on the verge of elimination.
"We already overachieved coming into the series," said Phoenix Super LPG coach Topex Robinson after the game.
"We're just glad that we're giving. That's been our battlecry -- service, giving and trust," he added.
Calvin Abueva did everything once again for Phoenix Super LPG, with 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a block. Jason Perkins and RJ Jazul each had 11 points.
In a defensive slugfest between two of the highest-scoring teams in the PBA, it was Phoenix Super LPG that pulled away, 88-81, with three minutes to go. But the Tropang Giga clawed their way back behind Ray Parks, who repeatedly bullied his way to the rim for layups or to draw fouls. A bucket by Troy Rosario made it a one-point game, 88-87, with a minute and ten seconds to play.
An exchange of buckets between Perkins and Parks kept Phoenix Super LPG's lead at one point, 90-89, with under 40 seconds to go, setting the stage for Wright's heroics.
The gunner played just seven minutes in Game 1 before suffering an ankle injury, and had only two points in 15 minutes in Game 2 which the Fuel Masters won, 110-103. With his team needing him in crunch time, Wright answered the call, shaking loose of Roger Pogoy's defense before rising for a free throw line jumper that pegged the final score with 22 seconds left.
"Yesterday, we didn't practice. We just talked about acknowledging that we're tired, acknowledging that we're hurt, and knowing that it's a long series. By saying that, we're eliminating any excuses," Robinson said of their mindset. "So acknowledge it, and let it go."
The Tropang Giga had their chances, but Pogoy missed a corner triple that could have tied the game, and Jayson Castro's leaning attempt also hit iron.
Another victory on Wednesday's Game 4 would give Phoenix Super LPG its first Finals appearance in franchise history.
Parks led the way for TNT with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists, while Simon Enciso had 16 points. Rosario had 14 points and Castro tallied 12 points and six rebounds.
Pogoy, one of TNT's most reliable players in the elimination round, made just three of 12 attempts for eight points. Poy Erram had 13 rebounds but scored just six markers.