Phoenix new coach Ariel Vanguardia nearly emerged a winner in his coaching debut in the PBA.
But a few miscues in the endgame proved costly for the Fuel Masters as they succumbed to the Meralco Bolts, 108-103 at the opening game of the PBA Governors Cup Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Vanguardia said he would have unveiled their new go-to-guy in veteran guard Cyrus Baguio. But with just an hour of practice with the team on Thursday, the freshman PBA coach decided not to utilize the high-flying former University of Santo Tomas standout.
“I know in the endgame, I can call his (Baguio) number, but he only had one hour to practice with us yesterday because he was asked by Alaska owner Mr. Fred Uytengsu for a meeting so I can’t give him the playing time he deserves,” Vanguardia told PBA reporters after the game.
The 35-year-old Baguio joined his new team in practice on Thursday, just a day after being traded by Alaska, his team for the last 6 years to Phoenix in exchange for 2 future second round picks.
But Vanguardia insists Baguio is not yet over the hill, aware that his championship experience could augur well for the Fuel Masters in the long run.
“Cyrus is a proven winner. He’s won championships and is an endgame player,” noted Vanguardia, who came in to replace Koy Banal last month.
“I know his role in Alaska has diminished but I also know he’s got something to prove. I also know if you get a hungry warrior, he’ll be tough.”
Vanguardia said Baguio has a day to familiarize with the team’s system on Saturday, before making his debut in a Phoenix uniform on Sunday when they face defending champion San Miguel Beer at the Big Dome. – By Richard Dy
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