The Phoenix Fuel Masters and the TNT Tropang Giga are all set to kick off their best-of-five semifinals series that many have been salivating for this coming Wednesda.
The biggest reason for that is because Calvin Abueva and Ray Parks Jr. are going to share the floor for at least three games. Which team will draw first blood?
Catch this game live on November 18 at 3:45 pm, Manila time.
The Phoenix Fuel Masters (0-0)
As it turns out, Phoenix has enough gas to reach the semifinals, as the Fuel Masters are on their way there following a thrilling 89-88 win over the Magnolia Hotshots Saturday night. Matthew
Matthew Wright drilled the game-winning 3-pointer for Phoenix with just 9.3 seconds left in regulation and finished with 32 points and nine assists. It’s that kind of conference for Wright, who is in strong contention for best player honors in the 2020 Philippine Cup.
However, his focus is on leading the Fuel Masters past TNT, which beat Phoenix on October 19, 110-91. Wright exploded in that game for 31 points, but he didn’t get much support from his teammates, with only Jorey Napoles scoring in double digits outside of the St. Bonaventure product. This is a different Phoenix team now, though, one with Calvin Abueva filling in the gaps.
Abueva wasn’t around in the October meeting with TNT, but with him back in the fold, he is expected to play a vital role in shadowing the likes of nemesis Ray Parks Jr. and RR Pogoy, while adding another layer to the Fuel Masters’ offense that is already one of the best in the league.
The Fuel Masters finished the elimination round second overall with 98.0 points per game.
The TNT Tropang Giga (0-0)
Unlike Phoenix, the Tropang Giga had an easy time getting past the quarterfinals, as they scored a lopsided 104-83 win against the Alaska Aces on Saturday.
RR Pogoy was piping hot in that game, as he torched Alaska’s defense for 34 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, including six 3-pointers. Pogoy will look to keep it going on Wednesday against Phoenix, which had a hard time slowing him down last month when he dropped 30 points (11-22 FG) on the Fuel Masters’ defense.
The Tropang Giga have the luxury of having two wing players who can go off for 30 to 40 points on any given night in Pogoy and Parks. Even with Abueva’s presence on the side of Phoenix, the Tropang Giga can stretch the floor and minimize the defensive impact of The Beast. And that’s not counting the third person in TNT’s triumvirate of stars in Jayson Castro.
With JP Erram, Troy Rosario, and Parks, the Tropang Giga will look to dominate the glass once again versus Phoenix. They outrebounded Phoenix in the first meeting, 61-46, with Erram coming up big by grabbing 15 rebounds. The Tropang Giga led all teams in the elimination round with 47.8 rebounds per game.
The Tropang Giga will offset Matthew Wright’s production with Pogoy, Parks, and Castro teaming up to provide balanced scoring for TNT. The Tropang Giga control the game’s pace with their excellent rebounding and outshoot Phoenix from deep on their way to scoring a 102-98 win.