Matthew Wright put on a heroic performance despite an injured ankle and led Phoenix Super LPG to a 92-89 win over TNT and move on the cusp of a first-ever finals appearance Sunday night in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Wright scored 25 points including a pair of big shots in the latter part of the fourth quarter, showing no signs of a right ankle sprain that forced him to play a total of 22 minutes in the previous two games of the series.
He capped off his 33-minute exposure with a three-pointer that put Phoenix up 88-81 with over two minutes left and a fadeaway jumper off RR Pogoy with 22.6 seconds to that made it 92-89 in favor of the Fuel Masters.
TNT tried to send the game into overtime but Pogoy missed a corner three and Castro muffed a running trey, giving Phoenix the victory and a game to remember for Wright.
“There’s really no secret,” said Wright, who made 10-of-19 shots highlighted by five triples. “I just really had to man up and play through the pain, play through the limited mobility.”
By picking up back-to-back victories and control of the best-of-five series, the Fuel Masters will have two chances to close it out beginning on Wednesday inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
Phoenix has never made the finals since starting its PBA stint in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup by purchasing the Barako Bull franchise.
“If we could go to the finals and inspire a lot of people, that’s where we’re heading,” said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson. “We’re gonna stay here as long as we could because we know that as long as we’re gonna give our best, winning will be the byproduct of everything we’re doing.”
Calvin Abueva played the supporting role for Wright with his usual dirty work, resulting in 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and four steals as Phoenix put TNT on the brink seeing another playoff disappointment.
Ray Parks Jr. had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists but was not the same player that erupted for 41 points in a losing effort in Game 2.
TNT’s other key players struggled once again, namely Troy Rosario, Castro and Pogoy.
Rosario had a quiet 14 points, Castro shot 3-of-12 despite 12 points and Pogoy could only manage to score eight points.
PHOENIX 92 — Wright 25, Abueva 24, Jazul 11, Perkins 11, Chua 8, Intal 5, Napoles 3, Rios 3, Mallari 2, Garcia 0, Marcelo 0, Heruela 0, Gamboa
TNT 89 — Parks 19 , Enciso 16, Rosario 14 , Castro 12, Pogoy 8, Reyes 5, Erram 6, Montalbo 6, Washington 3, Carey 0
Quarters: 22-24, 49-47, 73-69, 92-89.