PBA: Lack of consistent big man highlights Phoenix’ struggles
PHILIPPINE CUP

PBA: Lack of consistent big man highlights Phoenix’ struggles

/ 05:15 AM April 13, 2024

Phoenix Fuel Masters' Jason Perkins PBA Philippine Cup

Phoenix Fuel Masters’ Jason Perkins in the PBA Philippine Cup. –PBA IMAGES

Phoenix has no reasons to sugarcoat its Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup struggles, a complete difference from the previous conference when a do-it-all import carried the Fuel Masters to a fairytale semifinal appearance.

But Jason Perkins, who boosted the Fuel Masters to a 113-107 victory over the hapless Converge FiberXers Friday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City, feels that not having Commissioner’s Cup Best Import Johnathan Williams is no longer be used as an excuse.

“If we do what we do in practices and games, we shouldn’t be pressured about it,” Perkins said after posting 26 points, 13 rebounds and four assists as Phoenix improved to 2-4 after ending a two-game slide.

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Lead assistant Willie Wilson, who went to the podium for the customary postgame interview instead of coach Jamike Jarin, admitted that adjusting to life minus Williams remains a process as evident with how Phoenix maximizes the use of its big men.

One player who stood out was rookie Matthew Daves, whose effort on both ends netted him 11 points and six rebounds off the bench, while starter Larry Muyang and Chris Lalata played 10 minutes each.

“The process is gonna be ongoing,” said Wilson. “Imagine having the Best Import of the Conference playing almost 48 minutes, and then you got to fill those minutes with guys who aren’t getting a ton of minutes.

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‘Finding their way’

“Guys are still finding their way playing their role on the team and you see that work right now. All of those roles are being filled and being identified as we speak. Still a work in progress, but we’re on our way to where we want to be.”

Non-bigs like rookies Ken Tuffin and Ricci Rivero and Javee Mocon also stepped up as Phoenix, still dealing with the absence of injured shooter Tyler Tio, once led by 18 before holding off Converge’s comeback in the fourth to close in on Meralco and Rain or Shine, teams tied for ninth and 10th at 3-4.

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Rivero scored 17, a portion of which coming in the third with a number of three-point play opporunities, while Tuffin had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Mocon added 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks for the Fuel Masters.

Converge, meanwhile, absorbed another defeat and is now 0-7 with four left to play in its miserable season.

Justin Arana, undoubtedly the franchise’s top star and usually calm-headed, eventually showed his frustration over the FiberXers’ sorry state when he picked up a technical foul for protesting a non-call.

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Arana, who ended up with 32 points and 16 rebounds, eventually apologized to the officials after the game.

TAGS: Converge, PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix

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