When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
That’s exactly what the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters did on Saturday, November 14, as they eliminated the ever-dangerous Magnolia Hotshots off a nail-biting 89-88 quarterfinals win.
Coming off a surprise off-the-bench start, super scorer Matthew Wright drained a one-legged, game-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds of the heated contest, and willed the Fuel Masters to the semifinals at the PBA bubble in Pampanga.
Drained and banged-up all season long, Wright revealed he drew his strength for this game from the people affected by Typhoon Ulysses, which devastated major areas of Luzon, and left thousands of families’ homes submerged in floodwater.
“I was watching the news and I saw the victims of the hurricane. It’s so sad,” he said after dropping a game-high 32 points. “We’re such in a privileged position – we were in a hotel, we didn’t really experience it but the rest of the country was in dismay and it was so sad to see.”
“We dedicate this game to all the victims, and we hope that whoever’s watching, if this game even gave you guys a little bit of happiness, a little bit of a smile, then our jobs are worth it,” he continued.
It was indeed a joy for fans to watch both teams trade blows until the very last moment of the game. Magnolia star guard Paul Lee got off one last shot to extend their season, but it clanked off, and players scrambled for the ball as time expired in favor of Phoenix.
After the game, rookie head coach Topex Robinson echoed Wright’s sentiment, and wished for better days ahead for all those affected as they try to recover from yet another devastating natural disaster.
“One of the things that we discussed during the huddle before the game was joy,” he said. “That’s one of the pillars of our program, and we always tell them, we bring joy to the people who were affected by the typhoon.”
“Whether you’re a Magnolia fan, or a Phoenix fan, it doesn’t matter right now,” he continued. “What’s important for us is we’re gonna bring joy and hope to the people that watch the games, and we just showed it right there.”
League broadcaster One Sports reported that their online viewers peaked around 189,000 for the game, which surpassed the 177,800 concurrent viewers set last October 28 by Ginebra and Rain or Shine.
Of course, Robinson and Phoenix couldn’t be more thankful of the support as they try to entertain once more with a highly-anticipated war with TNT Tropang Giga in the next round.
“We just want to be resilient. You’re gonna go through tough times, just don’t quit. Persevere,” Robinson said. “I hope we inspired a lot of people tonight with the way that we played and communicated.”
“Hopefully, the Philippines rises from this. I know there are going to be a lot of challenges ahead, but let’s just hang on together.” – Rappler.com