The question of whether there’s already a momentum shift or just a bump on the road will be known on Sunday in Game 3 of the two PBA Philippine Cup semifinal affairs at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Phoenix Super LPG and TNT collide in the 3:45 p.m. before Meralco and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel square off at 6:30 p.m. with the winner of both games gaining a 2-1 lead in their respective best-of-five series.
Both semifinal duels are knotted at 1-1 after Phoenix and Meralco pulled off contrasting victories Friday inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
Calvin Abueva’s all-around play propelled Phoenix to a 110-103 victory over TNT while Meralco stormed back from a 13-point third quarter deficit to stun Ginebra 95-77.
Whether the tide has changed following those results will be known by the time both games have started.
“TNT has been the dragon in front of us,” said Fuel Masters coach Topex Robinson. “For us to reach the finals, one way or the other we have to face that dragon and we just have to play our very best.”
The Fuel Masters built an 18-point lead in the second quarter before weathering a 41-point explosion by Ray Parks Jr. and the Tropang Giga comeback with Abueva and Jason Perkins making the big plays down the stretch.
Meralco saw its top players Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi, Raymond Almazan and Baser Amer stepping up during the second half despite falling behind for more than half of the contest.
“In this type of series, it’s always a game of adjustments. And obviously we lost Game 1 so we were the ones that really had to adjust to try and keep up with the Ginebra team,” Meralco mentor Norman Black said.
“Now either you stand pat or try to anticipate what adjustments (Ginebra) Coach Tim (Cone) is going to make. Or they’ll just do much better than what they did (in Game 2),” he added.
One adjustment likely to surface is how Ginebra can get guard Stanley Pringle back in his usual form.
Pringle was held to just nine points on 4-of-16 shooting, only the second time this season that the speedy guard failed to score in double figures.