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PBA: Phoenix guns for semis

Matthew Wright of Phoenix Pulse (PBA Images)
Matthew Wright of Phoenix Pulse (PBA Images)

by Jonas Terrado

After succeeding in its initial goal of claiming the twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix Pulse will now try to erase painful playoff exits in the past and claim the franchise’s first-ever semifinal appearance.

The Fuel Masters claimed the elusive bonus Saturday evening when they overcame the feisty challenge of the San Miguel Beermen, 96-93, in their out-of-town game in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

Phoenix finished the eliminations with a 9-2 record to clinch the top seed in the eight-team playoffs which starts in early April.

Matthew Wright of Phoenix Pulse (PBA Images)
Matthew Wright of Phoenix Pulse (PBA Images)

But the twice-to-beat isn’t a guarantee for Phoenix, especially after dealing with the heartbreak of wasting the incentive in last year’s Governors’ Cup.

Coach Louie Alas and the Fuel Masters went second in the eliminations, earning a twice-to-beat edge against the Meralco Bolts in the quarters.

Phoenix, however, ended up getting an early vacation as Meralco banked on its late surge following a 1-6 start to reach the semis by winning twice.

“We’re not gonna let this loss unravel us,” Matthew Wright said after that bitter playoff loss.

“The Bulls and the Lakers, they were losing games. Bulls were losing to the Pistons like this before they won championships, the Lakers were losing to teams before the three-peat.

“We feel like we’re in a position where we can be one of the better teams in the next couple of years. So we gotta stick together and take this loss collectively in a positive light.”

Wright and company may have shown their readiness to compete with the big boys, as seen with their meetings with Magnolia, Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel.

Phoenix battled from 17 points down to beat Magnolia, 89-87, on a late three by Jason Perkins last March 6. The Fuel Masters came close to beating Ginebra but blew a 10-point lead to fall 100-97 last March 10.

Against San Miguel, Phoenix held the lead for most of the way before Wright came through with a go-ahead three that put the Fuel Masters up for good.

“The initial plan was to compete,” said Alas. “Just stay close, so that you will give yourself a chance to win and we did that.”

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Written by Tempo Online

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