PBA: Wright heats up late, powers Phoenix past TerraFirma

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2021 05:26 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2021 06:05 PM

Phoenix Super LPG's Matthew Wright PBA Media Bureau.
Phoenix Super LPG's Matthew Wright shoots a three-pointer against TerraFirma. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Matthew Wright came alive in the fourth quarter to spark Phoenix Super LPG past the TerraFirma Dyip, 103-100, on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

In what was the first game of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup for both squads, the Fuel Masters overhauled a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to break the hearts of the Dyip.

Wright scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to fuel the Phoenix Super LPG rally, finding his stroke after a brutal start that saw him miss eight of his first 10 field goal attempts. He also finished with 10 assists and six boards.

Import Paul Harris, back for his fifth tour of duty in the PBA, overcame foul trouble to put up 24 points and 15 rebounds. Jason Perkins and Chris Banchero each had 18 points.

"We just kept on playing. We just kept on grinding it with them," said Phoenix Super LPG coach Topex Robinson after the game. "We just didn't wanna give up. (We just kept) playing, take our chances, and I guess we just went down to our defense, and our defense really helped our offense."

The Fuel Masters had a good start and even led by 10 in the first quarter but their turnovers allowed the Dyip back in the game. TerraFirma went on to lead by as much as 17 points, 67-50, with under seven minutes to go in the third quarter off a split at the line by their import, Antonio Hester.

Phoenix Super LPG reserves Larry Muyang and RJ Jazul started the Fuel Masters' comeback, cutting into the deficit and putting their team within 10 points, 77-67, heading into the fourth quarter.

"They've always been ready. I'm blessed to have these guys that are ready to contribute, even if they don't play the first half. The minute or the second that they get in, they're finding ways to support the team," Robinson said of his bench.

Wright then took charge in the fourth period. He starred in a 14-1 run that turned a 90-77 TerraFirma lead into a 91-all deadlock, before Aldrech Ramos nailed a much-needed three-pointer that pushed the Dyip ahead anew, 94-91.

Harris knocked down two charities to make it a one-point game, and off a TerraFirma turnover, Jazul drilled the three-pointer that put the Fuel Masters up for good, 96-94. Buckets by Perkins and Banchero helped them take a six-point lead, 100-94, with just over two minutes to play.

The Dyip still had an opportunity, thanks to Juami Tiongson, who made a free throw and then completed an and-1 with 16 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, 100-98. Harris coolly converted two free throw for a four-point Phoenix lead, but Alex Cabagnot -- making his TerraFirma debut -- scored with 7.6 ticks left to keep his new team alive, 102-100.

Two misses at the line by Perkins gave TerraFirma hope, but off a rebound, Hester fired a pass to Cabagnot who mishandled the ball, giving possession back to Phoenix Super LPG. Harris made one of two free throws, and Cabagnot's three-pointer at the buzzer was well off the mark.

Hester had 28 points on an efficient 11-of-14 clip in his debut for TerraFirma, along with 16 rebounds. Tiongson finished with 20 points. 

Cabagnot had 12 points, but made just four of 17 field goals. He also committed seven turnovers, while Hester accounted for six. As a team, the Dyip committed 25 turnovers that Phoenix Super LPG converted into 33 points.

TerraFirma did not help its cause by shooting just 21-33 from the line, with Hester missing half of the 12 free throws that he took in the game. 

The scores:

PHOENIX 103 – Harris 24, Banchero 18, Perkins 18, Wright 17, Jazul 9, Muyang 6, Manganti 4, Garcia 3, Chua 2, Pascual 2, Rios 0, Melecio 0, Tamsi 0

TERRAFIRMA 100 – Hester 28, Tiongson 20, Cabagnot 12, Ramos 9, Cahilig 8, Adams 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 5, Celda 5, Gabayni 3, Camson 2, Pascual 2, Balagasay 0, Batiller 0

QUARTERS: 30-25, 42-52, 67-77, 103-100