There’s no greater motivational tool than what drives Matthew Wright, so bum foot or not, he’s going to get what he wants.
Wright scored 25 points capped by the telling turnaround jumper with 22 seconds left on Sunday night to lift Phoenix Super LPG to a 92-89 nipping of highly favored TNT and to within another win of a maiden PBA title series appearance that could earn for the Fuel Masters the intangible that never comes easy in this league.
“I’m just trying to get respect for Phoenix as the fans have respect for (Barangay) Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, TNT, and those other organizations,” the Phoenix ace told reporters at Angeles University Foundation powered by Smart 5G after the Fuel Masters seized a 2-1 lead in their Philippine Cup Final Four series with the heavyweight Tropang Giga.
“Now, all the pressure’s going to be on (TNT) to come out [for Game 4] and have a great performance, because they’re the ones with the prestige, history and they’ve won a lot of championships, too,” added Wright.
Calvin Abueva had 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and starting forward Jason Perkins and RJ Jazul accounted for 11 each as the Fuel Masters won for the second straight game and will have two chances to bundle out the Tropang Giga and go to a place very few expected them to be when the bubble was created for the only conference of the league’s milestone 45th Season.
“We didn’t practice (on the eve of this game),” coach Topex Robinson, who has taken the Fuel Masters to unchartered territory less than four months of calling the shots, said. “We just talked about acknowledging that we’re tired, that we’re hurt, and that it’s a long series.
“By doing so, we’re eliminating any excuses. So we need to acknowledge those and let them go. Because we never know when we’re going to get this chance once again.”
Phoenix’ first chance at wrapping up this best-of-five semifinal series comes on Wednesday, and Bong Ravena of TNT and the other members of the Tropang Giga’s coaching staff will have a lot of time to try and figure out why their expensive, talent-laden roster is trailing the Fuel Masters in a series they were tipped to dominate.
Ray Parks Jr. scored 19 points and had 13 rebounds, Simon Enciso had 16 and Troy Rosario, 14. But the Tropang Giga’s top two guns—Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy—were held down to a combined 20 with Pogoy missing the potential game-tying triple after being hounded by Abueva.
“We’re not even supposed to be here,” Wright went on. “I’m sure some of you (media) guys didn’t expect us to be here, too. But we’re here.”
The teams that have the respect in this league have done making Finals a habit, but getting to the title series of this conference could very well do it for Phoenix, this being the toughest one to win considering everything that has happened.
“We’re out there just having fun,” Wright continued. “You can hear it from our bench.”
Not only has Phoenix notched another victory to move closer to a title shot, Wright and the rest of the team continued to give to victims of Typhoon “Ulysses” (international name: Vamco) as their won game bonuses in the Final Four will go to the affected people in Marikina and Cagayan.
“We can’t just talk about service, we have to act on it,” Robinson said of the team’s pledge. “And that’s really our purpose now: We want to bring joy and fulfillment out what we’re doing.” INQ