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Quarters-bound Phoenix keeps defensive vigor up

/ 12:21 PM March 02, 2019
Calvin Abueva Phoenix Fuel Masters

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Phoenix coach Louie Alas has rhapsodized about his team’s defensive might and how much it has become essential in their recent string of victories in the PBA Philippine Cup.

So on Friday night, coming off a controversial win over NorthPort, Alas asked for his wards to ease up on pressuring the Alaska Aces.

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“I told them that defensively, they are exempted from pressuring full contact,” Alas shared to reporters following a 94-80 win over Alaska at Mall of Asia Arena.

But the players, led by its raging bull forward Calvin Abueva and gunslinger Matthew Wright, didn’t want such shakeup. They wanted to drive a point.

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“Still, they pressured. And that’s the main thing,” Alas said. “We were able to expand the lead in the [fourth] quarter because of our pressure defense.”

Phoenix managed to hold Alaska below the 60-point mark going into the fourth quarter before they stretched the lead to 26 near the halfway mark of the final frame.

The masterful performance by Phoenix afforded itself a place atop the standings alongside the Rain or Shine, the only team that has defeated them. But the rosiest part of it all? They’re now guaranteed of a quarterfinals spot.

But Alas, just like his wards, has no plans of slowing down.

“This is only formalizes our entry [to the quarterfinals]. We are now aiming for the top two spots to prepare us for the semifinals,” he said.

But before the next phase, the Fuel Masters first have to go through a troika teams Alas regards as league “heavyweights.”

“[We’re facing three San Miguel teams. Magnolia on March 6th, Ginebra on the 10th and then, San Miguel Beer on the 16th” he said.

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“I feel like my players believe we can win by playing defense,” Alas said in closing.

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TAGS: 2019 Philippine Cup, Alaska Aces, Calvin Abueva, Louie Alas, Matthew Wright, PBA, Phoenix Fuel Masters
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