Fuel masters eye equalizer

April 22, 2019

Play Beermen in Game 4 seen to be highly-physical, interesting.

FORTY-EIGHT minutes -- not less than that -- of unrelenting execution on both ends of the court.

That’s what Phoenix Pulse needs if it is to beat San Miguel Beer again in their semifinal duel in the PBA Philippine Cup.

Phoenix coach Louie Alas believes that by playing well offensively and defensively against the Beermen for 48 minutes, his Fuel Masters have handsome chances of  beating them at the same time.

That strategy actually worked well for Phoenix when it beat San Miguel back in the elimination, 96-93, last March 16.

The Fuel Masters resorted to that strategy anew as they turned back the Beermen in Game 3, 92-90, to resurrect their finals hope on Easter Sunday.

The Fuel Masters are expected to use the same ploy as they try to get even with the Beermen in Game 4 of the best-of-7 semifinal series at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Gametime is 7 p.m.

“Sabi ko nga, 'Di tayo p'wedeng maglaro ng less than 48 minutes against San Miguel," said Alas minutes after the Fuel Masters’ Game 3 win which reduced SMB’s lead to 2-1.

"At least hanggang sa last seconds nakaka-execute kami. Basically, ganito rin naman iyung second game. Nu'ng second game hindi lang kami naka-close out," added Alas, referring to Game 2 which the Beermen won.

In Game 3, the Fuel Masters showed much desire as they beat the taller Beermen in rebound battle, 71-49, and 28 of those rebounds were offensive rebounds.

"Iyun 'yung gusto namin, matapos sila (Beermen) ng less than 100 (points)," said Alas. "Kapag lumagpas ng 100 super less na tsansa naming manalo."

Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, Justin Chua and RJ Jazul spewed steady fires for the Fuel Masters and the four finished with a combined output of 65 points.

However, it was Wright who kept Phoenix’s poise under grinding pressure by banging away 12 of his 18 points in the fourth period, including Phoenix’s last six points from the free throw line.

That saved the day for the Fuel Masters who also avoided falling down to deep hole where only the Beermen were able to overcome in the PBA.

Abueva also had 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, Justin Chua chipped in 15 points and seven rebounds while Jazul added 14 points for Phoenix, which bucked the loss of big men Dave Marcelo, for a second quarter F2 on Christian Standhardinger, and Jason Perkins, who fouled out with still 3:33 left.

"Sabi ko nga sa kanila, 'Iyung panalo na makukuha natin dito, big bonus iyan, not for this series (alone),'" said Alas. "'Kasi every single win na makukuha natin dala-dala natin experience for the future, for the next conferences."

"Siguro, bottom line ng winning is iyung toughness," said Alas. "We just have to continue doing that. Talagang iyon ang kailangan sa amin day-in, day-out, lalo na sa series na ito. San Miguel is a super tough team. Ang importante nga lang, just hang in there. Labanan mo toughness nila.

The Beermen are expected to launch their own counterattack today, with SMB coach Leo Austria already making pronouncement of it.

"We cannot allow them to win Game 4 because that could boost their morale and cause bad consequences for us," said Austria.