Calvin Abueva’s defensive grit helps keep Fuel Masters unscathed
Calvin Abueva after his block on Galanza to preserve Phoenix’ 83-82 win over NLEX and also to keep their unbeaten start that has now stretched to 5 wins. | @BLozadaINQ #PBA2019 pic.twitter.com/E6fr4qbBsb
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) February 8, 2019
MANILA, Philippines—It may have looked like a spur of the moment defensive play but Calvin Abueva’s game-winning block on Bong Galanza was the culmination of a well-thought, calculated moved.
Abueva’s block not only gave Phoenix the 83-82 win, but it also preserved the team’s unbeaten start in the PBA Philippine Cup that has now stretched to five wins.
The defensive play started when Justin Chua deliberately stepped on the sideline to get a delay of game warning that allowed the Fuel Masters to read the Road Warriors’ offense, giving the chance for Abueva to pounce.
“I helped because my teammate was already beaten and we all knew the offense would go through Larry [Fonacier] so when Galanza got free I just forced myself for the help defense instead off allowing him to take the shot,” said Abueva in Filipino Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Fonacier was pinned down in the screens and Galanza was able to free himself for the three, but Abueva was there to help out on Alex Mallari who was also trapped in the picks.
But it wasn’t just Abueva who displayed the tenacity down the stretch since it was the credo that Phoenix head coach Louie Alas instilled in them.
The Fuel Masters trailed by as much as 11, 56-45, early in the third quarter but slowly clawed their way back and tied the game at 77 after Matthew Wright’s triple with 4:15 remaining in the game.
Phoenix took an 83-77 lead with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter after Wright’s jumper over Galanza.
Although the Fuel Masters allowed the Road Warriors to score five unanswered, Abueva’s grit was able to save them.
“Coach always tells us to focus especially in the end game because that’s what really matters,” said Abueva who finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks.
“We can keep a steady pace in the first three quarters but the fourth really is the most crucial and that’s the time where we really want to show our mentality.”
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