On Christmas Day, Phoenix aims to rise after missed opportunity | Inquirer Sports
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On Christmas Day, Phoenix aims to rise after missed opportunity

/ 05:25 AM December 23, 2021

Phoenix guard Chris Banchero

Phoenix guard Chris Banchero. PBA IMAGES

A couple of key breaks that went against Phoenix turned the Fuel Masters from a team that could have shared the view from the top to one clinging to seventh place.

That’s how fast fortunes can change in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

“It’s frustrating to process that we should’ve been 4-0, but we just lost two really close games at the buzzer, basically,” said Matthew Wright, the team’s top gunner, after a 125-121 overtime defeat to defending champion Barangay Ginebra last Sunday.

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One thing going, though, for the Fuel Masters is that they are not wanting accountability. The team is teeming with it, in fact.

It starts with Wright: “I wish I could’ve done more,” he said after the loss to the crowd-darlings last Sunday.

“This is a very tough loss. I mean, I truly felt we were going to win this game.”

There’s also import Paul Harris, who, after the loss, went back to the court and put up 100 free throws while the league was setting up for its 3×3 tournament scheduled for the next day. Harris muffed charity shots that could have won the game against the Gin Kings.

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“This one one just really, really hurts,” the American told a few reporters just before leaving Smart Araneta Coliseum, where the Fuel Masters went from a team that started with two straight wins to one that suffered back-to-back losses for an even 2-2 card.

And then there’s coach Topex Robinson.

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“Rather than looking at that and trying to blame whoever it is to blame, I always tell myself, ‘What can I learn from this?’” he said.

The three will have a shot at redemption when they see action on Christmas Day as part of a doubleheader at the Big Dome. Phoenix will battle unbeaten leader NLEX as a curtain raiser to the Ginebra-Magnolia showdown later in the night.

And the fact that spectators will cheer them on will be a treat for Wright, who enjoyed having fans back at the venue in their game against the Gin Kings.

“[J]ust to feel the atmosphere, as much as they weren’t cheering for me, was just a great feeling at that moment,” he said.

Harris also did not mind that the fans were screaming their support mostly for the Gin Kings, the team he once was linked to.

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“I don’t care if they’re for me or against me. That was amazing to be back playing in front of the fans and I love that,” Harris said.

TAGS: Barangay Ginebra, Fuel Masters, Gin Kings, PBA Governors' Cup, Phoenix

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