Phoenix notches win with prized acquisition Sean Anthony still out
Matthew Wright gave Phoenix a reason to cheer. Sean Anthony gives the team something it can look forward to.
The PBA gave fans both.
Wright had 13 of his 17 points in the payoff period as the Fuel Masters fought back to stop the Terrafirma Dyip, 103-100, in the Governors’ Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Thursday, the same day that league chief Willie Marcial put hope that basketball fans may be able to watch a game live on Christmas Day.
With Wright in the lead, Phoenix rallied from 17 points down to secure a win that buys the team time to work new acquisition Anthony into the rotation and hopefully allow the team to shift to a higher gear when he finally suits up.
“As much as he’s not ready yet, I think Sean’s going to be big for us,” Phoenix coach Topex Robinson told the Inquirer. In the second game, Rain or Shine extended Blackwater’s losing streak to 20 games after a 92-79 win.
Henry Walker scattered 20 points and four others finished in twin digits for the Elasto Painters, who made sure that the Bossing’s losing streak has now extended to a third straight conference.
Anthony was acquired in a midseason swap that sent Vic Manuel to NorthPort, which eventually shipped the veteran to San Miguel Beer. The do-it-all forward, a stat-stuffer like former Phoenix cog Calvin Abueva—minus the antics, is still unavailable after having bone spurs removed.
“What he could bring to us is that second push—especially with this tournament having a really quick turnaround,” he went on. “We’re looking to sustain our winning ways while waiting for Sean. And then when he comes in, that second wind kicks in. Hopefully it’s gonna work out well for us.”
“Having that kind of guy—a really good glue guy is key. I mean, we see a lot of Calvin Abueva in him. A never-say-die attitude and he always works hard,” Robinson added.
Import Paul Harris, who kept the Dyip in the backseat after Wright rallied the team to the lead, finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead Phoenix.“Coach Topex just kept telling us to battle through it,” said Wright, who also had six rebounds and 10 assists.
Terrafirma caught Phoenix off guard with its new-look roster that featured champion guard Alex Cabagnot to push the Fuel Masters into a 50-67 hole in the third.
“They made a lot of improvements on their roster, as they now have some championship pedigree, so they’re not the same Terrafirma you’ve seen in the past,” Wright said.
Cabagnot finished with 12 points, including a crucial layup with seven ticks remaining to bring the Dyip within 102-100.
Meanwhile, Marcial said that he is expecting the Quezon City government to give its go-signal soon to open the games to spectators, boosting the likelihood of a Christmas Day game at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao..