The Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters and the TNT Tropang Giga will put their perfect record on the line when they clash in the PBA Season 45 Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena and Cultural Center tonight, October 19.
The Fuel Masters are exceeding expectations so far after winning their first two games against the Meralco Bolts and the NorthPort Batang Pier under their new mentor Topex Robinson.
The Tropang Giga are upbeat after a fiery start, pacing the league with a 3-0 (win-loss) slate highlighted by a resounding win against the defending champions San Miguel Beermen on Friday.
TNT proved formidable in their last three games, with Roger Pogoy, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and Poy Erram posting career-high nights.
The Cebuano guard Pogoy shone in the team’s first game over the Alaska Aces with 45 points, Parks displayed his prowess in the second game against the Dyip with a 40-point output, while Erram finished with 27 points and 15 boards against San Miguel in the third.
The Fuel Masters also had their own scoring spree courtesy of Matthew Wright who notched 36 points in the team’s first game inside the “bubble” in Pampanga.
Robinson, who was appointed as the team’s interim coach just weeks before the restart of the season, said the Fuel Masters will focus on team effort.
“We look at the value of each of everyone from our top player to the last guy of the group. We glorify our guys who are willing to sacrifice for the team,” he said.
Phoenix will still be missing energy guy Calvin Abueva who’s waiting for the league to lift his indefinite suspension.
TNT will likely miss Pogoy who suffered an ankle sprain during TNT’s routing of San Miguel Beer.
“Again, there’s so much work to be done. It’s gonna be a fun week for us in the next coming weeks inside the bubble,” said the ex-PBA point guard Robinson.
The main game will be a battle of struggling teams between the winless Terrafirma Dyip and the defending champions Beermen at 6:45 p.m.
The Beermen lost their first two games inside the bubble against TNT and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Adding to their woes is their star guard Terrence Romeo’ shoulder injury that will incapacitate him for the rest of the season.
Romeo dislocated his shoulder after colliding with veteran guard Ryan Reyes midway in the second quarter in their game against TNT.
The Beermen remain winless inside the bubble but holds a 1-2 record, owing to their victory over sister team Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok last March 8 before the season was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
SMB is already playing without six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, who is nursing an injured right shin.
With All-Stars Fajardo and Romeo out, the Beermen will lean on veterans Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter.
Terrafirma, led by sophomore CJ Perez, is also in a must-win situation to avoid falling to a 0-3 hole.