Phoenix, SMB in key faceoff
Phoenix Petroleum coach Louie Alas knows that San Miguel Beer is the most dangerous team in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the moment.
Not only because the Beermen have a loaded local roster despite the continued absence of reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, and a talented import in Kevin Murphy.
But it is because of something else.
“They’re coming off three straight losses, and that makes me worried,” Alas said as his rampaging Fuel Masters tackle the Beermen Friday night at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay where a twice-to-beat advantage could await Phoenix with a win after the 7 p.m. contest.
“Losing four games in a row hasn’t happened to them in a very long time,” Alas said. “That makes them (Beermen) very hungry coming into our game. And also, they need to win (again) to get back in the top four race.”
With a 6-2 card, the Fuel Masters are tied for fourth spot with Blackwater and wouldn’t want to drop out of that position going into the most critical stretch of the elimination round.
The top four qualifiers will get twice-to-beat advantages in the first round of the playoffs against lower-ranked foes.
San Miguel, obviously, doesn’t want to belong to the latter, although the Beermen are currently on the bubble at No. 8 with a 2-4 card, no thanks to that unlikely losing streak.
And for the Beermen to entertain thoughts of qualifying in the upper half of the playoff draw, they would need to sweep their remaining five games as they close out with matches against TNT KaTropa, NorthPort, Rain or Shine and Meralco.
San Miguel will come into the game a well-rested team, while Phoenix will be trying to take the momentum of a 123-97 ripping of NLEX on Wednesday night into this crucial match.
“I felt the nature of the (lopsided) win (on Wednesday) served the team well,” Alas went on. “I was able to play my major player minimal minutes, even Eugene (Phelps, his import).”
Defending Murphy will be a major cause of concern for Alas, although he thinks he has the perfect man for that job in Calvin Abueva.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.