By: Bong Paredes / @hoopslocale
It was clear at the start of the game what Tropang Giga’s strategy coming in. Get the ball away from Matthew Wright’s hands. Phoenix, knowing that TNT will play Wright this way, was confident that the rest of the team will pickup the slack as they have been doing all conference long. Unfortunately, they just did not have enough today.
Phoenix fired blanks as TNT put the clamps on Wright. Tropang Giga jumped on the Fuel masters early and led 25-20 at to end the first.
The second quarter was not the prettiest sequence of basketball to watch as both teams squandered one opportunity after another. Phoenix had their chances to grab the lead several times, but only Calvin Abueva (23 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks) took advantage of any defensive gaps TNT might have had.
With Parks and Castro struggling to score, former BPC winner Jay Washington (11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block) and Simon Enciso (12 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists) carried the scoring burden to stay on top of Phoenix entering the 2nd half.
Not much has changed in the 3rd quarter for Phoenix. Wright could not turn the corner and find any breathing room, and TNT’s gamble to have guys like Perkins and Chua create from the top of the key paid dividends. Jason Perkins (11 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists) had a decent showing stat wise but his offensive contributions came too few and far between to make up for what they weren’t getting from Matthew Wright (13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists with 4 turnovers).
Tropang Giga’s top gunners Rayray Parks (26 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists) and Jason Castro (11 points, 6 assists, 2 steals and 1 block) poured it on in the fourth quarter with RR Pogoy (11 points and 5 rebounds) and JP Erram (9 points and 6 rebounds) providing timely rebounds and baskets when Phoenix threatened.
The Fuel Masters, behind Abueva and RJ Jazul (8 points and 5 rebounds) put up a late run that proved just that. Late.
TNT awaits the winner of the Ginebra vs Meralco series.