SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Experience proved to be the biggest difference for TNT to outlast Phoenix Super LPG in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
And the Fuel Masters’ main man Matthew Wright could only admit that it was indeed the case.
“TNT is a good team. They have championship pedigree. They have big-name players on that team. (They are) well-coached. They’ve been in this situation more than we had,” he said.
The 29-year-old Fil-Canadian sniper, however, vowed that the Fuel Masters will come back stronger and get the job done should they face another do-or-die situation.
“We’re gonna be here for a long time so I take solace in knowing that this is just the beginning for us. There’s only one place to go and that’s up for us. I’m proud of the boys,” he said.
“I promise you this won’t be our last and we’re gonna be ready for the next time.”
A storied franchise in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, the Tropang Giga overhauled a 1-2 series deficit then utilized their depth and star power to pull off a 91-81 victory in the literal win-or-go home Game 5 on Friday night at the AUF Arena.
TNT, a perennial title contender that has been to numerous no-tomorrow games, became only the 17th team in PBA history to overcome a 1-2 disadvantage and prevail in a best-of-five series, and only the 11th to do so in the semifinals, according to the league’s chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
“This series has been tough. If you look at the scores it’s almost even but they really made good adjustments in the end,” said Wright.
One of those crucial tweaks was limiting the bubble MVP frontrunner to just 13 points on a sour 5-of-19 from the field, including 3-of-13 from beyond the arc, following his 34-point eruption in a 102-101 loss in Game 4 two days ago.
“Give credit to the coaching staff–coach Sandy (Arespacochaga), coach Bong (Ravena), coach (Mark) Dickel, a very good coach. They had a bubble before this. They’ve been working in their game and it paid off.”