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MANILA, Philippines – Sean Manganti turned out to be an unlikely hero as Phoenix extended its campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The former Adamson standout played his finest game of the conference to help the Fuel Masters avoid elimination with a 103-85 victory over top seed Magnolia in Game 3 of their best-of-five semifinals on Sunday, January 28.
Practically a non-factor in the first four games of the playoffs, Manganti netted a conference-high 14 points with 4 rebounds and 3 assists as he made good use of the 34 minutes entrusted to him by Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin.
“Nothing has really changed. I’m still in there early, I’m still getting all my shots in early at practice. But I did talk to coach Jamike yesterday. I told him, ‘What can I do to help the team?’ I think you guys saw it,” Manganti said.
“We trust each other.”
A rotation player in the elimination round, Manganti lost a huge chunk of his playing time when the playoffs started.
Manganti played just under four minutes in three of the Fuel Masters’ first four games of the playoffs and averaged only 1.5 points over that span.
But the 6-foot-5 forward showed he is capable of contributing when given ample playing time as he made sure not to let Jarin down.
“Just wanted to repay coach Jamike with his trust in me. That was my main focus. We really needed a win today. We’re do or die. We did not want to go home,” said Manganti.
“All credit goes to coach Jamike. We just want to repay him so much. Everything we’re doing, we have him in mind,” added Manganti. “He has a great relationship with all of us.”
Now that Phoenix solved the Hotshots’ puzzle after losing to Magnolia in their last 10 meetings, confidence is at a high for Manganti and the Fuel Masters as they shoot for their first finals appearance in franchise history.
“We think that Magnolia has all the pressure. They should be beating us. We’re going in there. We’re going to continue our fairytale run. We want to make it to the finals. We’re all optimistic,” he said.
Game 4 is on Wednesday, January 31, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com