The Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters will attempt to snatch the No. 2 quarterfinals spot when they meet the Alaska Aces today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
The Fuel Masters will clash against the Aces at 7 p.m. after the 4:15 p.m. first game between the Mahindra Floodbuster and the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Road Warriors.
Coming off a 79-73 win over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings last Sunday, Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said they need a crafty offensive strategy against the Aces.
“Alaska takes pride in its defense,” said Vanguardia through text message. “We have to find ways to attack them and create opportunities for other scorers. We have to play good defense too.”
The Fuel Masters with a 6-4 win-loss record are hoping to extend their winning streak to three.
Promising rookie Matthew Wright, with an average of 15 points, 8.5 rebounds and seven assists per game, is expected to step up for Phoenix with teammates Cyrus Baguio, Simon Enciso, John Wilson, Prince Caperal, JC Intal and Willie Wilson.
The Aces’ win-loss record is currently 5-4.
“Phoenix is the No.2 team in the standings for a reason,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton through text message. “They are playing excellent basketball, shooting the ball really well, and coach Ariel (Vanguardia) is a friend and a top rate coach.”
“This game means so much to both teams in terms of the standings so we hope to have a great performance on both sides of the ball,” he added.
The Aces will lean on Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, Jayvee Casio, veteran Tony Dela Cruz, RJ Jazul, Sonny Thoss, Chris Banchero, Kevin Racal, rookie Carl Bryan Cruz and Dondon Hontiveros against Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Mahindra and NLEX, both holding 2-7 win-loss records, were already out of the race for the quarterfinals.
“I told my guys after I bought the team pizza after practice today for one to thank them for the hard work and effort they gave me, and two, to celebrate my birthday tomorrow,” said Mahindra assistant coach Chris Gavina, who will turn 38 today.
“I just asked our guys to play ball, have fun and enjoy each other’s success. We want to end this conference on a high note by winning out our last two games and that’s our mindset going into this game against NLEX. To play the game we all love with pure passion,” he added.