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Phoenix wants to keep bubble residence a little longer

/ 04:30 AM November 14, 2020
RR Pogoy TNT

TNT’s RR Pogoy (right) exploded for 45 points against Alaska. —PHOTO COURTESY OF PBA IMAGES

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY—Phoenix Super LPG has set its sights on one thing and one thing only.

“The goal is to stay here [inside the bubble] and stay here longer. So we’ll do whatever it takes,” coach Topex Robinson told reporters here, shortly after sealing a quarterfinal slot on Wednesday night.

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As the second seed of the PBA Philippine Cup in the playoffs, Robinson has every reason to set his sight on the title.

But he won’t be looking past Saturday night’s game at Angeles University Foundation powered by Smart 5G.

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The Fuel Masters battle No. 7 Magnolia in the main game of a doubleheader that starts at 4 p.m. and they will be armed with twice-to-beat coverage. But Robinson, like many of the coaches with the same playoff bonus, hopes he doesn’t have to fish that incentive out of his pocket.

“[T]hat’s a privilege for us,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t mean Magnolia is going to give [the win] to us. We have to scratch it out against this team.”

If he needs a peek at the mentality with which a lower-seeded squad will approach this match, he doesn’t have to look far. He just has to catch the first game, where coach Jeffrey Cariaso and his Alaska Aces try to upend No. 3 seed TNT.

“There’s a mandate to play at a higher level in the playoffs, so we expect nothing but the best from our opponent,” Cariaso told the Inquirer on the eve of their win-twice campaign against a title favorite in TNT.

“Our focus and all our energy will be in tomorrow’s game [so] we’ll see where that takes us,” added Cariaso, whose squad hopes the back-to-back wins have given them enough boost to finally get over the Tropang Giga side they almost took down during the eliminations.

Both TNT and Phoenix won their elimination round matches against their quarterfinal foes. The Tropang Giga rode a 45-point explosion from RR Pogoy to sneak past Alaska, 100-95, in the bubble opener last Oct. 11. The Fuel Masters, meanwhile, got a combined 43 points and 19 rebounds from Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins in a 91-84 victory over the Hotshots last Oct. 23.

There’s hope, though, for both Alaska and Magnolia. Both teams actually stormed to huge leads and seemed to have control of their matches until fizzling when it mattered the most.

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“What’s important for us is just being ready,” Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero said.

TNT, which is coming off three days of rest, hopes to come out swinging in the first of two tries at securing a semifinal berth. After all, the Tropang Giga will be needing all of its weapons against an equally well-rested Aces who are coming from back-to-back wins.

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TAGS: Jeffrey Cariaso, PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix Super LPG Fuelmasters, RR Pogoy
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