AFTER dispatching their respective lower-ranked quarterfinal opponents last Saturday, Phoenix Super LPG and Talk N Text prepare for battle in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports and Cultural Center.
More than a month after the first-ever games in the NBA-inspired bubble environment in Pampanga, the Fuel Masters and the Tropang Giga begin their best-of-five semifinal showdown starting Wednesday.
Phoenix slammed the door on No. 7 seed Magnolia Pambansang Manok, 89-88, while the Tropang Giga eliminated No. 6 Alaska Milk, 104-83, to reach the semis.
Both Phoenix and Talk N Text are primed for this interesting battle.
“It’s just so magical for us,” said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson, who replaced veteran coach Louie Alas in an interim capacity only last September before being formally elevated to his post early this month.
“We’re just so blessed to be here, to grind it out with one of the best teams, a well-coached team,” added Robinson, referring to Phoenix’s grind-out game against Magnolia last Saturday.
“I give credit goes to (Magnolia) coach Chito (Victolero) and the coaching staff for really giving us a super good experience that we’re gonna bringing along in the semis.”
The Tropang Giga are prepared for battle, too.
“We’ll be ready whoever we face in the semis,” said Talk N Text coach Bong Ravena before the Phoenix-Magnolia game later Saturday.
Against Magnolia, Phoenix leaned on the heroics of Matthew Wright to escape with another inspiring victory.
Wright, who now leads the race for the coveted PBA “Best Player of the Conference,” finished with a game-high 32 points in the Fuel Masters’ thrilling victory over the Hotshots.
Wright capped his heroics with a dagger three with time running out that sealed the win for Phoenix.
Jason Perkins, RJ Jazul, Calvin Abueva, Justin Chua and Brian Heruela also stepped up when needed for the Fuel Masters, who have now won their last four assignments.
Talk N Text, on the other hand, also rode on the hot hands of veteran Roger Pogoy to finish off the Aces.
Pogoy, who exploded with 45 points in Talk N Text’s 100-95 victory over Alaska at the start of bubble play last Oct. 11, was again in his usual deadly self by scoring 34 points to lead the way for the Tropang Giga.
Pogoy will be ably supported by Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Ray Parks, JP Erram, Simon Enciso and Anthony Semerad.
Top seed Barangay Ginebra will meet either defending champion San Miguel Beer or Meralco in the other best-of-five semifinal.
Meanwnhile, Wright could well be on his way to claiming a first PBA major individual plum.
In the latest statistical race released by the PBA, Wright led all comers in the statistical points (SP) race through the elims with 39.5 per game culled from his outstanding all-around norms of 22.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.4 steals.
CJ Perez of Terrafirma was second with 35.7 statistical points, followed by Perkins with 35.5SPs, Parks with 35.2SPs and Christian Standhardinger of NorthPort with 34.6 SPs.
Two Talk N Text players Pogoy (34.3) and Castro (33.6) came in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Also making it to the Top 10 list are Barangay Ginebra teammates Stanley Pringle (33.3) and Scottie Thompson (33.2) then San Miguel Beer center Moala Tautuaa (33.0) .
The other notable players in the list are LEX’ Kiefer Ravena (32.6), SMB’s Arwind Santos (32.4), Magnolia’s Paul Lee (31.7), Meralco’s Chris Newsome (31.1) and Alaska’s Vic Manuel (29.9).
In the rookie race, top draft pick Roosevelt Adams of Terrafirma Dyip leads the way with 20.3.
In second place is Aaron Black of Meralco (18.7), followed by Aris Dionisio of Magnolia (18.7), and Barkley Ebona of Alaska (14.6) and Arvin Tolentino of Ginebra (14.6).