AFTER gaining a measure of respect, the challenge now for Phoenix is how to sustain its well-earned status.
Coach Topex Robinson said consistency should be the key for the Fuel Masters in PBA Season 46 in the light of the franchise earning a first ever finals berth during the Philippine Cup last year at the Clark bubble.
Robinson said respect was what the team set as goal before they began their campaign during the bubble.
And given the way the Fuel Masters responded that saw them miss making the finals after losing to TNT Tropang Giga in the deciding Game 5 of their semifinal series, the eloquent coach believed the squad accomplished what it aimed for.
"We just want to be respected as a program, as a team. So every time we played during the bubble, yun lang ang ano namin (goal). Obviously, we want to win. But more than that, we want to be respected," said the Phoenix mentor in a guesting stint in the program The Game.
"Now after that experience, the challenge for us, now that we're respected - and hopefully we are - teams are going to play us differently."
Of course, the Fuel Masters did tinker with their lineup during the off season.
No longer with the team are key cogs Calvin Abueva, JC Intal, Brian Heruela, Alex Mallari, Dave Marcelo, and back-up big man JayR Reyes.
But in their exchange came the likes of Vic Manuel, Chris Banchero, and top notch rookies Larry Muyang, Nic Demusis, and Aljon Melecio.
Despite not having half of the personnel that reached the semifinals of the all-Filipino conference last season back for another tour of duty, Robinson is aware the rest of the field has become more wary now of Phoenix.
"Gone are the days when teams will not prepare the way they use to prepare against us during the bubble," he said. "So yun yung challenge sa lahat sa amin, yung on how we'll keep it alive." (RG)