Fuel masters play Aces, eye spot in playoffs

February 28, 2019

PHOENIX Pulse goes for an outright playoff berth today as it takes on Alaska Milk, while Columbian Dyip tackles Blackwater in a pair of interesting mat-ches in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Phoenix coach Louie Alas admitted life is getting a lot more difficult for his Fuel Masters in the kickoff conference where they were eliminated last season.

Only last Wednesday, the Fuel Masters went through one of the hardest games thus far in their campaign after barely escaping the ambush bid by NorthPort.

“Pahirapan yung panalo namin, pero mas mahirap yung susunod,” said Alas, referring to the Fuel Masters’ 7 p.m. encounter with the Aces in a battle of defense-oriented teams.

The Fuel Masters bounced back from last Feb. 10’s stinging 98-94 loss to Rain or Shine as they defeated the Batang Pier, 98-96, in a game marred with controversial call in the closing seconds.

The PBA technical committee though came to a conclusion that the offensive foul called by referee Noy Guevarra against NorthPort’s Sean Anthony in the last 47.8 seconds of the fourth quarter was a wrong one.

Anthony made a three-point play that was nullified because of the blunder.

The Fuel Masters are expected to stick to their vaunted chief weapon this conference – defense – as every team is expected also to play with a lot of urgency, with the elimination round entering its crucial phase.

“Four of our six wins came from stoppage. We keep on inculcating on our players na ‘yan ang gusto naming yakapin na identity, and we’ll continue to preach that,” said Alas.

Interestingly, the Fuel Masters are up against an Alaska team that’s also one of the teams that put much premium on defense.

At stake for the Fuel Masters is an outright entry into the playoffs where they’re in the running for a Top Two seeding and the twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.

The Fuel Masters will also gain a share of the lead with lone tormentor Rain or Shine should they beat the Aces.

The Aces lost in their debut, but routed Columbian Dyip, 94-72, then outlasted the Blackwater Elite, 103-101.

The Dyip meanwhile go for a follow-up to their huge win over Meralco last Wednesday as they play the Elite in the first game at 4:30 p.m.

The Dyip escaped with an 86-85 win over the Bolts to bounce to halt their three-game losing slump, while sending the latter reeling to their second straight loss.