Rookie Matthew Wright delivered the needed points in crunch time to power Phoenix Petroleum’s 94-90 victory over Meralco on Wednesday, the team’s third win in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at The Arena in San Juan City.
Wright, who notched 17 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter on 7-of-11 shooting in the field also posted eight rebounds and four crucial free throws in the dying seconds of the game. The Fuel Masters improved its win-loss record to 3-3.
“I missed a lot of free throws. If I made those shots, we would not be in situation like this. I’m happy that we won,” Wright, also a Gilas Pilipinas player, told The Manila Times. “I put a lot of prayers and we are so thankful.”
Veteran Cyrus Baguio, who finished with 11 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, scored a pivotal three-pointer with only 1:12 left in the game to reclaim the lead for the Fuel Masters, 91-90. Earlier, Meralco’s Jonathan Grey scored a three-pointer that gave the Bolts the lead, 90-88, with still 1:26 to go.
“That’s my fault,” said Baguio. “But I’m happy to get back and hit that important shot.”
Mark Borboran notched 17 points and eight rebounds while rookie Gelo Alolino had 11 points also for the Fuel Masters.
“I’m just relieved we lost the last two games with an average of 31 points,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia during the postgame interview. “It is like sleepless nights for all of us. Halfway point we’re 2-3, we’re not out.”
“On our sixth game, I told them – let’s just start 0-0. This Arena brings back a lot of memories. Matthew Wright I am not happy with his defense. For Baguio, he is a veteran and he’s making that shot many times. Nothing else is new,” he added.
Phoenix Petroleum forced the Bolts to commit turnovers early in the match resulting in a 20-13 lead highlighted by Simon Enciso’s lay-up with only four minutes remaining in the first period. The Fuel Masters were still ahead, 22-19, at the end of first quarter.
Meralco fought back in the second quarter with rookies Jonathan Grey and Ed Daquioag scoring important baskets to cut the deficit, 44-45, at the halftime break.
Grey’s triple and a lay-up sparked Meralco’s 31-20 run in the second half en route to a 75-65 lead at the start of fourth canto.
But Alolino ignited an 11-0 rally capped by two lay-ups to help the Fuel Masters seize the edge, 76-75.
Wright’s lay-up allowed his team to establish a slim 76-75 lead with still eight minutes to go in the last quarter. Baguio’s three-pointer in crunch time made Phoenix Petroleum outscore Meralco in the final period, 29-15, and secure the win.
Grey led Meralco with 24 points. The Bolts’ win-loss record dropped to 2-3.