Despite a decrease in playing time this season, Prince Caperal kept his faith in coach Tim Cone.
From 21 minutes a game in his Most Improved Player season inside the "bubble" in Clark, the forward's playing time decreased to almost 14 a game this season.
With the loss of Japeth Aguilar (MCL sprain) and Scottie Thompson (health and safety protocols), the reserve showed the way in helping bring Barangay Ginebra to the postseason by dropping a game-high 19 points in the 95-85 victory in a knockout match against Phoenix Super LPG Saturday evening.
"Coach always says to us, if there is a player down, we should have a next man up mentality. Ever since that was my mantra," recalled Caperal in the post-game press conference.
"If there's a man down, we have to step up towards the game plan. That is what the team is about, the next man mentality," he added.
Caperal gave Ginebra its biggest lead of the game at 17, 88-71, after canning a midrange stepback jumper, 6:04 left in the game.
Refusing to go down without a fight, the Fuel Masters responded with a 12-2 run to come within seven, 92-85.
However, Joe Devance carved his way inside to go up by nine, 94-85, with about two minutes left. Aljon Mariano's free throw with 13 ticks to go wrapped up the whole shebang for the Gin Kings.
Saddled by foul trouble, Jason Perkins paced the Fuel Masters offense with 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.
Wright struggled shooting all game, going 5/22 on field goals for 14 points. However, he was able to dish out eight assists and hauled in five rebounds.
"We have a white board in the locker room and we have one name up there on the white board, only one name," said Cone of their game plan.
"We had other things to talk about, but we only had one name, and that name was Wright," he added.
Ginebra lived to fight another day, and will defend its Philippine Cup crown against last year's runners up, TNT Tropang Giga, whom they defeated 4-1. TNT, the top seed, now holds a twice-to-beat disadvantage over them.
"We talked about it yesterday before the game that we can either walk away from this thing and quit or we could stand up, take responsibility, and continue to fight," remarked Cone.
"There are only two choices. I give them credit, they chose the tougher one, which was to stand up and continue to fight," furthered the tactician.
BRGY. GINEBRA (95) -- Caperal 19, Pringle 17, Standhardinger 15, Dillinger 13, Tenorio 9, Devance 8, Mariano 8, Ayaay 4, Chan 2.
PHOENIX (85) -- Perkins 15, Banchero 14, Wright 14, Jazul 12, Pascual 11, Demusis 9, Muyang 5, Rios 3, Garcia 2, Calisaan 0, Melecio 0.
Quarter Scores: 22-20, 49-38, 79-66, 95-85.
- Vic Manuel (strained groin) and Justin Chua (health and safety protocols) did not play in the knockout game.
- Ginebra became the first defending champion to become a number eight seed in the succeeding conference since San Miguel (2005-06 Fiesta).
(8) Ginebra vs (1) TNT (twice-to-beat): To be announced at a later date.
Phoenix has been eliminated.