Calvin Abueva returns with a bang as Phoenix subdues NLEX

Matt Wright still found a way to get his offensive groove in Calvin Abueva's triumphant return. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--After 16 months of wait, "The Beast" was unleashed once again!

Calvin Abueva put up a comeback game to remember as Phoenix once again built a winning run after nipping NLEX, 114-110, in a highly anticipated PBA game at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

In a literal and figurative homecoming, the Angeles native played as if he was never suspended for over a year, dropping 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and one steal off the bench for the Fuel Masters.

But they still had to fight back from a huge deficit against a Road Warriors squad ready to spoil the party.

Down 58-60 at the half, NLEX began the third quarter on a 19-3 run to take a 77-63 lead near the halfway point of the period.

But the team slowly wavered from there, and Phoenix fired 12 straight points to retake the lead, 90-85, early in the fourth.

The Road Warriors still put up a fight, even claiming the edge back, 102-101, with four and a half minutes left.

The Fuel Masters, however, responded with a 7-0 run to go up, 108-102, with 1:41 remaining.

NLEX scored five unanswered points to cut the lead down to just one, 108-107, but Matt Wright found Abueva underneath for a crucial basket that upped the gap back to three, 110-107, with 44.1 seconds left.

Phoenix's defense then forced Kevin Alas to a tough layup miss and a botched triple from Raul Soyud that could have tied the game, and Justin Chua added two free throws to make it 112-107 with 13 seconds on the clock.

Soyud bounced back after making a quick triple with just 10 seconds to go, but Chua iced the game with two free throws in the ensuing play.

Wright led the Fuel Masters, who are now at 4-2 in the standings, with 28 points, four rebounds, five assists, and one steal.

Jason Perkins added 20 points, 13 rebounds, and one assist.

Soyud put up a career-high 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting and three rebounds, for the Road Warriors, who fell to 1-5.

Kiefer Ravena and JR Quinahan each added 18 markers with the former putting up a double-double with 10 assists.

Box Scores:

Phoenix 114-Wright 28, Abueva 21, Perkins 20, Chua 19, Rios 10, Garcia 6, Jazul 4, Heruela 4, Intal 2, Marcelo 0

NLEX 110-Soyud 27, Quinahan 18, Ravena 18, Alas 15, McAloney 14, Cruz 8, Miranda 6, Semerad 2, Ayonayon 2, Varilla 0, Ighalo 0

Quarterscores: 27-30, 60-58, 86-85, 114-110

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