AFTER four straight losses, Phoenix's PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs aspirations have been practically quashed.
That doesn't mean the Fuel Masters would just quietly fade into the night.
Phoenix aims to fan whatever flickering flame of hope it still has of advancing to the quarterfinals when it takes on GlobalPort Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Should the Fuel Masters snap out of their funk, they still have to beat Alaska on July 6 and hope that the four wins they would wind up with are enough to forge a tie for the eighth and last quarterfinals slot, which would be resolved by a knockout game.
"Hard but doable," said Phoenix coach Louie Alas.
GlobalPort should be equally ready and perhaps more determined, however.
Pumped up no end by a man-sized 98-94 upset victory over defending champion San Miguel Beer their last time out, the Batang Pier want a second straight win that would keep them firmly entrenched at fifth-running spot.
More wins against Columbian on Friday and Barangay Ginebra a week later and GlobalPort would be safely through to the next round where it is sure to land within the top six and possibly even a tie for No. 2.
Tournament format has the top two teams following the 11-game eliminations enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage over the lowest-ranked qualifiers and the next four engaging in best-of-three series.
For their lofty goal to be realized the Batang Pier have to take care of their end, starting with the Fuel Masters.
"We have to play consistent, good basketball defensively and offensively versus Phoenix," stressed GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio.
Giving Jarencio additional optimism is the fact his charges won over SMB despite import Malcolm White getting thrown out for incurring a second technical foul with still a little over eight minutes left in that game.
Good thing GlobalPort's locals stepped up, with Nico Elorde and Stanley Pringle shining the most in the tight endgame. Elorde boomed in the go-ahead triple while Pringle capped a 22-point, six-rebound and eight-assist performance with the last of his three steals that led to a Mo Tautuaa basket making it 97-94.
White has hopefully now learned to keep his emotions in check and the likes of Sean Anthony, Kelly Nabong, Tautuaa, Elorde and Bradwyn Guinto are sure to also rise up to the challenge.
While laying out his basic gameplan, Alas also pinpointed Pringle as the one GlobalPort player his side has to stifle the most.
"We just have to contain their penetrations, fastbreak points and limit Pringle," said Alas, who will be banking most on Eugene Phelps, Matthew Wright, RJ Jazul and Doug Kramer now that Jeff Chan has been traded to Ginebra.(NC)