Fuel Masters sustain impressive PBA start, survive Bossing this time
Getting three wins in four games to begin its Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup campaign is enough reason for Phoenix to be optimistic.
Coach Jamike Jarin, however, doesn’t want the young Fuel Masters, who on Friday posted a 111-106 win over the Blackwater Bossing at Smart Araneta Coliseum, to take a step back with plenty of challenges—those being against the perennial powerhouses—still to come.
“The work still continues to get better and prepare for the coming games,” Jarin said, urging his team to keep pushing for more wins to sneak into the playoffs.
To become better, Phoenix will need to get the result it needs at least in the next two games against opponents the Fuel Masters have a high probability of beating.
Next two games
Terrafirma is next on Nov. 29 at the Big Dome and winless Converge on Dec. 2 at Philsports Arena in Pasig City, and a sweep could give Phoenix some sort of a buffer heading into a provincial encounter with traditional heavyweight Barangay Ginebra on Dec. 9 in San Jose, Batangas.
One player hoping to help meet those goals is Jason Perkins, who had 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in another splendid showing for one of the Fuel Masters’ longest-tenured players.
“I’m just trying to be a leader, I guess,” said Perkins, who entered the league in 2017 as Phoenix’s fourth overall pick. “But I’m also still kinda young and we’re all growing together.”
Talented second rounder
Phoenix was lauded for the haul it got during the September draft, with Ricci Rivero among its picks by way of the second round.
Rivero scored 14, including some baskets in the fourth that kept Phoenix ahead of a Blackwater side that tried but eventually fell short of completing a comeback.
“The good thing about what coach Jamike is doing is that he gives all of us a chance, which not every team usually does,” said Rivero in Filipino. “It just goes to show the trust he has in his players. We’re a very young team but all are promising players. We will get there soon.”
Import Johnathan Williams had 21 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and two steals for Phoenix, while team captain RJ Jazul, Phoenix’s oldest player at 35, came up with 19 points.
Blackwater slumped to a third straight setback after opening its campaign more than two weeks ago with a win over Converge.
Import Chris Ortiz scored a conference-high 35 points for the Bossing.