by Jonas Terrado
Divine intervention is probably one of the things Matthew Wright hopes can help Phoenix Pulse make a turnaround after being outplayed by the well-experienced San Miguel Beer in the first two games of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
The Fuel Masters are in dire straits after a 100-88 defeat in the series opener and a disappointing 92-82 loss in Monday’s Game 2 despite leading by a high of 12 points as the Beermen showed the poise that allowed them to win the last four editions of the All-Filipino tournament.
“All I can say is we need to go to church or something,” Wright said, obviously trying to put a light-heartened description of Phoenix’s predicament that coincides with the ongoing Holy Week break.
Game 3 is set on Easter Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Phoenix needing to score a victory to change the complexion of the best-of-seven series.
“We definitely need this Holy Week (break). I think all you guys gonna have to pray for us in these next couple of games,” Wright later told reporters.
Wright was left to praise San Miguel’s calmness while lamenting Phoenix’s lack of experience in the pressure situation of the PBA playoffs.
Despite what he described as Phoenix brandishing its defensive-first mentality, Wright and company weren’t able to close out Game 2 as San Miguel slowly chipped away at the deficit before pulling away with late baskets courtesy of Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter.
A technical foul due to Calvin Abueva’s decision to go straight into the locker room instead of going toward the bench after fouling out with San Miguel still up 84-80 with over a minute left in the fourth also contributed to Phoenix’s downfall.
“We felt we got what we wanted, offensively. Defensively, we’re really clicking, making it hard for June Mar (Fajardo) and the other guys,” Wright said.
“We just collapsed in the fourth quarter and we just crumbled. We just couldn’t seem to recover. I guess we showed our immaturity and (San Miguel) showed their championship pedigree,” he added.