Jason Perkins delivered the goods, but it was an under-the-weather Matthew Wright who set it all up for Phoenix late in the team’s comeback win over Magnolia on Wednesday.
Wright, who wasn’t at 100 percent entering their matchup against the Hotshots, struggled with his shot (4-for-12) and ended with as many turnovers as assists (six) in the thriller. He made up for it by being sharp in the clutch, though.
“I have to give it to Matt kasi naglaro ‘yan kanina nang may sakit siya eh. Kita niyo parang zombie na siya eh,” head coach Louie Alas said.
Down two with 50 seconds left, the 28-year-old guard buried a trey from the right wing to put the Fuel Masters ahead 85-84. After a three-point play by Paul Lee appeared to negate his huge triple, Phoenix then ran the exact play for Wright, who then opted to dish it to an open Perkins in the corner to give them the lead for good.
“Matt just made a good pass. They doubled off Matt. Matt has a high IQ, he makes good reads, and he found me open on the corner,” Perkins explained.
“Actually kay Matt ‘yun uli. Same play, previous play. But alam ko na ide-deny na si Matt so I told RJ to give Jason a flare screen, they’ll follow RJ, he might be open there. Kay Matt talaga ‘yung play, kasama lang sa option ‘yun si Perkins,” Alas explained.
That win was Phoenix’s eighth one in nine games in the Philippine Cup.
Wright, however, downplayed its significance and focused on how they showed character against a championship-caliber team that’s still trying to find its footing this conference.
“For us, it’s just another win. We do everything one game at a time. We know Magnolia is coming off of a championship. That whole championship hangover thing, it takes a little longer to get into the flow of things so we try to take advantage of their fatigue,” he explained.
“I’m really happy, I think we’re for real. You just saw how we came back, the Phoenix of years prior, we would have lost that game by 30. But we fought, we kept fighting,” Wright added.
After taking down a huge contender, Phoenix will still be up for quite a challenge in its last two elimination games when they take on San Miguel and Ginebra. Facing two powerhouses for two consecutive games is an unenviable task, but Wright believes that Phoenix is up for it given how much run they’ve gotten at this point in the conference.
“We’re excited for those two games. We looked at the schedule and we saw Magnolia, San Miguel and Ginebra. We thought that would benefit us because we’ll have enough chemistry and experience to be in the flow of things before we play those three giants,” he said.
“Right now, we’re just gonna go to the drawing board and figure out a game plan for Ginebra.”
(Photo credit: PBA Images)