MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – We have a series.
Phoenix displayed steely resolve in crunchtime to eke out a 92-90 Game 3 win over San Miguel in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, April 21.
Squandering a fourth-quarter lead in Game 2, the Fuel Masters were much better in the endgame this time around as they trimmed the Beermen's lead in the best-of-seven affair to 1-2.
Matthew Wright, who battled foul trouble early, came up clutch by knocking down 6 free throws in the final minute to give Phoenix a 92-88 lead – an advantage enough to stave off a San Miguel seeking a third straight win.
A Chris Ross layup and JC Intal missing both of his freebies late opened the comeback door ajar for the Beermen, but the Fuel Masters put the shackles in the final possession to secure the win.
Ross missed what could have been the game-winning triple, while Von Pessumal muffed a two-pointer that would have forged overtime.
"Sabi ko nga, 'di tayo puwedeng maglaro ng less than 48 minutes of inconsistent basketball. Kailangan 48 and at least kanina and until the last second, nakaka-execute kami," said Phoenix head coach Louie Alas.
(I told them we could not afford to play a minute of inconsistent basketball. We need to play consistently for 48 minutes and fortunately, until the last second, we were able to execute.)
Calvin Abueva finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, while Wright added 18 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 block in the win.
Justin Chua had 15 points and 7 rebounds, RJ Jazul chipped in 14 points and 8 rebounds, while JC Intal delivered 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists for the Fuel Masters.
Bucking off a slow start, June Mar Fajardo frolicked in the paint with 22 points, 19 rebounds, and 2 blocks, but his efforts went for naught as San Miguel missed a total of 17 free throws.
It also did not help the Beermen's cause that Marcio Lassiter, who averaged 19 points in the first two games, was sidelined throughout due to back spasms.
Alex Cabagnot had 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, Christian Standhardinger added 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Terrence Romeo chimed in 16 points in the losing effort.
The pivotal Game 4 is slated on Tuesday, April 23, at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Phoenix 92 - Abueva 18, Wright 18, Chua 15, Jazul 14, Perkins 8, Intal 8, Kramer 5, Revilla 4, Mallari 2, Napoles 0, Mendoza 0, Dennison 0, Guevarra 0.
San Miguel 90 - Fajardo 22, Cabagnot 18, Romeo 16, Standhardinger 16, Ross 8, Pessumal 3, Santos 3, Rosser 2, Nabong 2, Zamar 0, Tubid 0.
Quarter scores: 21-19, 40-36, 64-66, 92-90.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.