Phoenix Pulse goes for the equalizer tonight as it faces defending champion San Miguel Beer in Game 4 of their best-of-seven semifinals series of Season 44 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
After surviving San Miguel Beer’s endgame onslaught resulting in their close 92-90 win in Game 3, the top seed Fuel Masters are going to try again in their 7 p.m. encounter with five-time reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and the Beermen.
Despite the win by Phoenix, the Beermen stay ahead in the series at 2-1.
And coach Louie Alas of Phoenix Pulse knew that they could not afford to commit a slim of error against the powerhouse team.
“We know San Miguel Beer we cannot play less than 48 minutes of consistent basketball. We need 48 minutes [of consistency] and up. At least, we were able to execute well,” said Alas, who reminds his players to keep their toughness in the series.
“The bottom line of winning is toughness. We just have to continue doing that.”
Matthew Wright came out with a clutch performance, scoring 12 of his 18 in the last quarter including six crucial free throws to save the Fuel Masters from the jaws of defeat in a highly-physical Game 3.
“I commend his resiliency for stepping up last game despite he’s sick with bronchitis but mild case only. He (Wright) just wanted to play,” added Alas, who also drew 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists from Calvin Abueva.
Game 3 was also marred by ejection after Phoenix’s bruiser Dave Marcelo was tossed out early in the second quarter for hitting Christian Standhardinger and was called for a flagrant foul penalty 2.
Standhardinger was thrown out in Game 2 after a flagrant foul penalty 2 for kicking Abueva prior to the Holy Week break.
San Miguel Beer missed the services of Marcio Lassiter in Game 3 due to back spasm.
“Marcio [Lassiter] is a big factor in our offense and he can also play good defense. There is something wrong with his back earlier so we don’t want to aggravate the injury,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “The team still had a chance to win. I think we have to be ready next game.”
Lassiter had an average of 14.6 points with 44 percent shooting from beyond the three-point zone in 11 games at the elimination round.
Fajardo posted 22 points and 19 rebounds plus two blocks for the Beermen in Game 3.
Austria remains confident of stretching San Miguel Beer’s series lead and making them a game closer of reaching the finals.
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