Phoenix will find its time
Alluding the Phoenix Fuel Masters to the mythical bird that resurrected has been a frequent if not understandable practice of late.
That’s because the Fuel Masters stirred hoop imagination with their sterling run in the current PBA Philippine Cup, finishing at the top of the elimination standings and gaining a twice to beat edge in the quarterfinals.
After disposing Alaska in one game, the semifinals was another story though, as the Fuel Masters were unable to turn around a bruising and physical series against a determined San Miguel crew bent on defending its title. The Beermen won, 4-1.
The wear and tear of battling the San Miguel giants and keeping eyes on a battery of gunners eventually told on the gutsy Fuel Masters. It was a new battlefield as they went into a series against the same strong adversary each time. It was different in the eliminations when there was a new opponent each game and the challenges were not redundant.
And yet time can be kind to the Fuel Masters as they have revealed who they could be in the future. The grind-out wins in the eliminations unveiled a team that was not going to lose easily.
Coach Louie Alas understandably kept pointing at their defense as the key to their winning run, but there was also a brewing chemistry that created offensive options for a variety of players.
It isn’t easy defending Phoenix when Calvin Abueva and Matthew Wright are on track and when RJ Jazul, Alex Mallari, LA Revilla and the returning JC Intal contribute. Add to this a rugged frontline of seemingly undersized rebounders like Justin Chua, Doug Kramer and Jason Perkins then you have a team that could always compete for top conference slots.
Many PBA teams needed time before they reaped dividends. An outstanding and dominant import helps, of course, but the general team chemistry can only be nurtured over time.
During the dominance of Crispa and Toyota, teams like San Miguel, Utex and Great Taste took some time before winning. Then there was Tanduay, the once Yco-based team that dominated the leagues before the pro loop, that waited 11 seasons before winning a title. Later on, Swift, Sta. Lucia, Ginebra, Alaska, Rain or Shine and TNT also persevered until they finally won.
Phoenix and its resurgence may not be as rapid as that of the mythical bird, but it already has more than enough to build on to find its own time.
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