Crucial showdown up
Ariel Vanguardia is very realistic of Phoenix Petroleum’s chances in the race for No. 2 ranking—and the second twice-to-beat privilege in the quarterfinals.
“We need a win, definitely,” Vanguardia said last week after his Fuel Masters became the first team to notch six wins in a frenzied, multiple team race to nab that playoff bonus.
“But we know where we are at. We need to win our last game just to avoid a twice-to-win scenario.”
The Fuel Masters, tied for second with idle TNT KaTropa, battle Alaska in the 7 p.m. contest on Friday at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay. A win knocks the Aces out of the chase for No. 2 and gives Phoenix momentary relief from a horde of other sides also shooting for the privilege.
An Alaska win, on the other hand, would put the Fuel Masters in a precarious position and they would need to wait for how the final three playdates of the elimination round pan out—hoping the results favor them.
The only way for Phoenix to tab the second playoff bonus is, first, for the Fuel Masters to beat Alaska and then hope that by some circumstance, no other team catches them at 7-4 in the standings by the end of the round on Feb. 1.
But as things stand, Star, which is at 5-4 and with great momentum after two straight wins, seems very capable with ousted Meralco and Mahindra as its final two foes.
Another thing going against Phoenix in case the Hotshots claim a piece of second is that Star destroyed the Fuel Masters by 44 points in their only elimination round clash.
Phoenix also lost to Rain or Shine and TNT KaTropa, two other teams still very much in the hunt, and if multiple ties occur, the Fuel Masters would drop down to the standings.
But the consolation prize of getting to a 7-4 slate is that Vanguardia and his boys can avoid being ranged against a top two team and needing two straight victories to make the Final Four.
Alaska, should it come out on top of this game, will still have Rain or Shine to contend with on Wednesday, which could be a KO match for No. 2 if the Elasto Painters hurdle GlobalPort this Sunday also at Cuneta Astrodome.
“We must win both, it cannot be 1-1,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton of their last two games, also aware that not being able to climb to seven wins could pull his Aces down to seventh or eighth and that gargantuan task of winning two straight to advance.
“This game means so much to both teams so we hope to have a great performance on both ends,” Compton said.
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