By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno, PNA
MANILA — Phoenix Fuel Masters bounced back in its Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup semifinal series against San Miguel Beermen with a 92-90, Game 3 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday night.
Clutch free throws from Matt Wright helped the Fuel Masters hold off the Beermen, which had a late comeback, for their first ever semifinal win.
Phoenix held an 80-73 lead with 6:45 to play after the team started the fourth quarter with a 16-7 run.
However, SMB retaliated and eventually forced an 86-all tie with 1:30 to go.
Wright then drained four straight free throws to put the Fuel Masters up, 90-86, with 26.2 seconds left.
Junemar Fajardo scored on a quick layup to trim the lead to two, 90-88, but Wright cancelled Fajardo’s shot with two more charities for a 92-88 lead with 21 seconds left.
Chris Ross kept the Beermen in the game with a fastbreak layup of his own that once again drew them to within two and even had a chance to win it after JC Intal missed two free throws in the next play.
But Ross’ three-point attempt rimmed out and Von Pessumal’s follow-up from mid-range went off target before time expired.
Wright and Calvin Abueva each had 18 points for Phoenix, which cut SMB’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1, forcing a Game 5 on Thursday night.
Fajardo put up 22 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks for the Beermen. (PNA)