By: Bong Paredes / @hoopslocale
The league’s number 1 team barely got away with the win despite Phoenix losing their best player Matthew Wright early in the 1st with a sprained ankle and with Calvin Abueva playing only 21 minutes because of foul trouble.
Phoenix got ahead early behind the efforts of the aforementioned Wright and Abueva and they held on to the lead until the end of the 1st half 37-36.
TNT asserted themselves early in the 3rd quarter behind the efforts of Roger Pogoy (16 pts, 9 rebs). Phoenix, even with contributions from multiple players, never found their groove in the quarter and fell behind 67-61 entering the 4th period.
With Wright unable to play, Abueva in foul trouble, Chua (3 pts, 13 rebs and 3 blks) and Pekins (15 pts, 10 rebs) both off sync, Brian Hereuela (6 pts, 4 rebs, 5 asts and 1 stl), Alex Mallari (13 pts, 5 rebs, 2 asts and 2stls), and RJ Jazul (21 pts, 2 rebs, 1 ast, 1 stl) took on the playmaking and scoring cudgels the rest of the way.
Unfortunately for the Fuel Masters, TNT matched their resolve and intensity with Erram’s (15 pts, 14 rebs, 3 asts and 2 blks) timely inside stabs and rebounds. Parks (17 pts, 7 rebs, 4 stls) and Castro (20pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts and 2 stls) also both came alive in the payoff period after a quiet first half.
Ryan Reyes (11 pts) along with Jay Washington (4 rebs and 1 blk) and Harvey Carey (6 rebs) gave the Tropang Giga meaningful minutes with their scoring and defensive efforts throughout out the game.
Calvin Abueva came alive late and along with Jazul prevented TNT to blow the game wide open. But Castro, despite struggling to finish at the basket earlier in the game, showed he is still a superb closer in securing the win despite Phoenix’s gallant effort.
Game 2 will be on Friday, November 20.