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A pair of rookies are putting Phoenix back in flight.
Matthew Wright led a fourth quarter surge as the Fuel Masters completed a come-from-behind 94-90 victory over the slumping Meralco Bolts last night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Wright, drafted from the Gilas Cadet pool, fired 17 of his career best 22 points in the final 12 minutes, going 7-of-11 from the field and 6-of-11 from the line with eight rebounds and two assists.
With the Fuel Masters down 75-65, Wright teamed up with fellow rookie Jelo Alolino in an 11-0 run that wiped out the deficit, 76-75, with 8:08 left.
The Bolts had a last gasp.
Rookie Jonathan Grey drilled in a three-point shot with 1:26 to go as Meralco (2-3) regained the upper hand, 90-88.
But veteran guard Cyrus Baguio responded with a 3 of his own, 91-90, and after Bolts neophyte Ed Daquioag missed a jumper, Wright hit two from the stripe with 27 seconds remaining.
Grey missed a potential game-tying trey and Wright grabbed the rebound. Fouled by Cliff Hodge, the 6-foot-4 forward split his free throws for the final score.
“I am just relieved,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguarda.
“We lost the last two games by an average of 31 points… it’s like sleepless nights for all of us. Halfway point and we are 2-3, and we are not out. On our sixth game, I told them let’s just start 0-0.”
Meantime, former Los Angeles Lakers player Byron Scott, who won four championships with the ‘Showtime Lakers’ in the 1980s with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, watched the game as a guest of the Bolts.
PHOENIX 94 – Wright 22, Borboran 17, Baguio 11, Alolino 11, Enciso 7, J.Wilson 7, Torres 6, Caperal 5, Hayes 4, Lanete 4, Javillonar 0, Miranda 0.
MERALCO 90 – Grey 24, Hugatan 15, Hodge 12, Daquioag 11, Yeo 9, Amer 7, Nabong 4, Newsome 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Caram 2, Chua 2, Uyloan 0.
Quarters: 22-19; 45-44; 65-75; 94-90.