THANKS to Matthew Wright, Phoenix Pulse remains spotless in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Wright scored nine straight points in the last 4:16 minutes to help the Fuel Masters escape with a pulsating 83-82 win over a gritty NLEX and keep their unbeaten record intact.
The silent but hardworking Wright sank a triple with 4:16 remaining to tie the count at 77-all, then came back to nail a jumper to put the Fuel Masters on top for good, 79-77.
NLEX failed to translate in its last two possession and in both occasions, Wright added two freethrows off Philip Paniamogan’s advantage foul before he made another jumper as singlehandedly bailed Phoenix out of trouble in a game of changing fortunes at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With still 1:53 left, NLEX refused to surrender and scored five straight points through Pedrito Galanza’s reverse undergoal and a wide-open triple from Paniamogan as NLEX threatened at 83-82.
NLEX even gained ball possession in the last 2.3 seconds after JP Erram secured the ball during a mad scramble. Unfortunately, the Road Warriors failed to carry out their last play, allowing the Fuel Masters to escape with the win.
Phoenix has now notched its fifth straight victory to remain unbeaten in the kickoff conference, while sending NLEX reeling to its fourth loss in six outings.
The Fuel Masters enjoyed 15-point lead several times, the last at 41-26 on Wright’s basket with a little over five minutes left in the second period.
But Phoenix’s offense turned sour in the face of NLEX’s defense, and the Road Warriors took advantage as well the situation to unleash their own run.
With JP Erram, Cyrus Baguio and rookie former UP Maroon Kyles Lao alternating on offense, the Road Warriors wiped out their deficit and went to the dugout for the halftime break with a restored confidence, being just a point within the Fuel Masters at the turn, 44-45.
Jason Perkins cut loose with eight points right on opening quarter and got huge help from Jaypee Mendoza, Alex Mallari and Matthew Wright as Phoenix stretched its 16-12 lead to 24-12 at the end of the first 12 minutes of action.
Barangay Ginebra meanwhile, guns for its second straight win and third overall as it plays Blackwater in a lone Petron Saturday Game Special at the Davao del Sur Coliseum.
The Gin Kings split their first four outings, but they will come into the 5 p.m. encounter against the Elite enjoying much momentum drawn from their 97-85 win over Columbian Dyip last Feb 2.
PHOENIX (83) - Wright 17, Perkins 14, Abueva 13, Mendoza 8, Jazul 8, Chua 6, Mallari 6, Revilla 3, Kramer 2, Marcelo 2, Napoles 2, Dennison 2, Gamboa 0.
NLEX (82)- Quinahan 14, Galanza 12, Erram 11, Fonacier 9, Baguio 9, Lao 8, Ighalo 6, Porter 6, Paniamogan 5, Taulava 2, Tiongson 0, Magat 0, Tallo 0.
Quarter scores: 24-12, 45-44, 67-70, 83-82.