• Phoenix’ Alas puts premium on defense


    Despite finishing the preseason four-team pocket tournament with back-to-back wins, coach Louie Alas of Phoenix is far from satisfied with the Fuel Masters’ overall defensive performance.

    Alas, who replaced Ariel Vanguardia at the helm last October, rated Phoenix’s readiness to just 60 percent with two weeks left before the opening of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup on December 17.

    “I’m happy but not satisfied because I can be happier if we develop the right habits defensively,” Alas told The Manila Times after the team’s 111-104 victory over Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) on Wednesday at the Upper Deck Sports Gym in Ortigas Pasig City.

    “There are still a lot of breakdowns defensively. Everything that we practiced in the past three weeks, we failed to execute and we’re getting back to our bad habits. But the positive thing I noticed is their willingness to learn and that’s very important to me,” he added.

    Rookie Jason Perkins led Phoenix with 21 points, while Jeff Chan finished with 17 points and seven assists against the Road Warriors. Matthew Wright and Justin Chua had 15 points each while point guard LA Revilla contributed 12 points in Phoenix’s second win.

    The Fuel Masters lost their opening game in the pocket tournament to Rain or Shine, 91-95, but rebounded with an 89-85 victory over Alaska last Tuesday for a 2-1 win-loss record.

    Alas said the team will embark on a three-day team building starting on Thursday at the Tagaytay Highlands.

    “We will have scrimmages and team session. I hope we’ll be 100 percent ready before the season starts,” said the comebacking PBA mentor.


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