July 21, 2017

Alaska good challenge for Phoenix says Vanguardia

PHOENIX vows to be ambitious in its PBA Governors Cup campaign and will now go for a second straight win when it tackles an embattled Alaska side during the first Petron Saturday Special offering for the season-ending meet.

The Fuel Masters go to the 5:15 p.m. encounter at the Mall of Asia Arena fresh from a 118-105 drubbing of KIA Picanto in the conference opener Wednesday, a victory which coach Ariel Vanguardia said somehow eased the pain of the team’s failure to make the playoffs of the last Commissioner’s Cup.

“It’s a good start for us because we broke our losing streak from last conference,” said Vanguardia, noting how Phoenix dropped their final two games in the mid-season tournament against also-ran teams Mahindra and NLEX to bomb out of the quarterfinals race.

With a fresh start, the Fuel Masters are raring to make up for lost opportunity.

“We’re very ambitious this conference. I think we have the chemistry to go to that next level,” Vanguardia stressed.

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Returning import Eugene Phelps is one factor for Vanguardia’s show of confidence as the prolific American was his old fiery self against the Picanto when he fired 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds despite playing with a hurting finger and mild cramps during the game.

“We know what Eugene can give us,” said the Phoenix coach.

The Fuel Masters will be going up against an Alaska side that suffered a 112-104 setback at the hands of NLEX in its debut, prolonging its losing streak that dates back all the way to the Commissioner’s Cup.

The loss was the ninth straight for the Aces, including their last eight matches in the mid-season tournament.

Despite Alaska’s woes, Vanguardia refused to dwell on the matter.

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“We’re playing Alaska next and eto, another good test for us,” he just quipped.