• Fuel Masters, Picanto clash in Governors Cup opener

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    Eugene Phelps returns for another tour of duty for Phoenix, which battles Kia in the opener of Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Governors Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.

    The Fuel Masters and the Picanto, formerly Mahindra, meet at 4:15 p.m. to be followed by the clash between Alaska and NLEX at 7 p.m.

    Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia is harnessing Phelps for the third time.

    Phoenix’s Eugene Phelps No.14 battles for the ball against Black Water’s Gregory Smith and Jan Sena during a PBA Commissioner’s Cup game at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    “He (Phelps) is in good playing condition right now and we are confident he’ll lead us to victories this conference,” said Vanguardia, who reminds his players not to take Kia lightly.

    “We really need to play more aggressive because Kia is a hardworking team and we cannot take them for granted,” he added.

    Phelps averaged 36.1 points, 19.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in last season’s Governors Cup and had a short stint with the Phoenix in the Commissioner’s Cup this year.

    Vanguardia hopes the locals, led by Cyrus Baguio, JC Intal, Willie Wilson and Norbert Torres, will perform well while their main man Matthew Wright is with the Gilas Pilipinas competing in the William R. Jones Cup in Taiwan.

    Kia, on the other hand, is determined to have a better showing in the season-ending conference. The team of deputy coach Chris Gavina is banking on the prowess of returning 6’4 import Markeith Cummings to pull it off.

    The Picanto aim to surpass their quarterfinals finish last Governors Cup.

    “We focused on mastering our fundamentals. We’ve worked hard on making our guys understand how to play, read defense and develop better shot discipline,” said Gavina.

    “Cummings’ leadership and previous experience will play a vital role in our success and I’m looking forward to our opener tomorrow,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Aces coach Alex Compton braces for the tough match against the Road Warriors, whose strength will be bolstered by the presence of Aaron Fuller.

    Alaska will be fielding balik-import LaDontae Henton in the tournament.

    “NLEX is now looking like a real Yeng Guiao team. They acquired starters from other teams that I think will be really significant players for them,” said Compton. “So hopefully, we will be able to match the intensity of their game.”

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