Handle with care
Louie Alas is concerned about one thing coming into Phoenix Petroleum’s critical clash with Rain or Shine. And he knows that if they get to address this problem the right way, things will look bright for the Fuel Masters in the playoffs of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“We need to handle the ball better, a lot better,” Alas told the Inquirer after practice as his Fuel Masters are leading the league in turnovers with close to 20 a game. “We’re giving the enemy so many extra possessions because of this.
“That’s my main concern, because as far as my players are concerned, I have a healthy roster,” Alas continued as Phoenix battles undermanned Rain or Shine Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay where it seeks the first of two wins needed to take a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“We are shooting for eight (wins), definitely,” Alas said of their overall record. “Seven (wins) could give you complications (of a playoff for a top four seat).”
Rain or Shine is in the tailend of the 12-team pack with a 2-6 record and a loss would eliminate the Elasto Painters from further contention even as San Miguel Beer also tries to snuff out the chances of NorthPort and enhance its own bid to make the playoffs in the upper half of the draw.
Reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo finally rejoined the Beermen in practice Tuesday but could sit out the 7 p.m. main event as the Beermen also enter the homestretch of their elimination round schedule where they need to win all their remaining games to have a shot at the quarterfinal bonus.
The complication Alas mentioned could be ending up tied with the Beermen—who would be in full force by then—for the last twice-to-beat privilege.
Phoenix is at 6-3 and with eight wins looking like the magic number to seal a win-once incentive in the first round of the playoffs, it has no room for, well, errors.
As things stand, idle Magnolia, Alaska and Barangay Ginebra are tied for the lead with 7-2 records and all with two games remaining.
The Fuel Masters are in their first playoff appearance in the Louie Alas era and will be closing out against the Blackwater Elite next week.
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