Ariel Vanguardia stays positive as injury-plagued Phoenix clashes with Rain or Shine

Even with a decimated roster, Phoenix coach Ariel Vaguardia remains optimistic with the team’s PBA Governors Cup campaign as the Fuel Masters try to move on without injured veterans JC Intal, Josh Urbiztondo and hardworking forward Willy Wilson.

Phoenix opened the PBA Governors Cup with back-to-back losses to Meralco, 108-103 and defending champion San Miguel Beer, 124-113.

The Fuel Masters played without Intal to start the conference due to bone spurs on his ankle.

The injury bug though struck Phoenix last week as Urbiztondo suffered a similar ankle problem, while Wilson, the team’s undersized forward also sustained hurt his right shoulder during the team’s loss to the Bolts.

We are just staying positive that we can continue to compete against the elite teams,” Vanguardia told FOX Sports, whose team tries to arrest the skid against Commissioner’s Cup champion Rain or Shine on Saturday.

“It’s another challenge for us because we’re facing another champion team.”

Game time is 5:15 pm. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Elasto Painters didn’t start the conference right following their 101-98 loss to TNT Katropa in a game that saw them waste a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead.

Still, Vanguardia recognized the fact that Rain or Shine’s stacked-up roster will pose a lot of problem to his injury-plagued team.

“They (Elasto Painters) will cause us a lot of matchup problems since they are huge so we have to play team defense,” shared the PBA freshman coach.

“That’s why we have to play our pace, but limit our turnovers, try to clog the lane and keep them out of the boards,” he added.

With three of his key players out, Vanguardia is hopeful that veterans Chico Lanete and big man Mick Pennisi, now 41, will serve as the leaders of the Fuel Masters.