After four tries, Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia finally registered his first win –and he intends to build on the momentum from the lessons he learned going up against more seasoned coaches.
“It’s sweet kasi kumbaga dito talaga sa PBA ang tindi ng laban, very quick sa adjustment yung mga coaches so we have to be very sharp,” described Vanguardia, moments after their 120-107 win over GlobalPort Batang Pier on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Taking over the Phoenix squad after his successful ABL conquest, Vanguardia had a rough start in the PBA with a sluggish 0-3 start.
Those losses were promising though, as Phoenix managed to build leads in the first three quarters most of the time with their high-octane, fast-paced game, only to bow down at crunchtime. But not this time anymore, as the Fuel Masters were able to execute down the stretch to leave GlobalPort at the cellar.
“I have to admit on those games that we lost, I got outcoached in the 4th quarter. Dito makurap ka lang, mawawala na yung lamang mo,” said the former KL Dragons mentor. “Buti kanina nawala yung lamang namin pero hindi kami nag-panic, sa mga ibang games nag-panic kami.”
Vanguardia had a timely lift from new import Eugene Phelps, who had an eye-popping 52 point-performance in his debut, but the rookie PBA coach is convinced that this win isn’t only courtesy of their impressive reinforcement.
“Down the fourth quarter alam na namin na pupunta kami kay Cyrus Baguio, pupunta kami kay Eugene, alam na nila yung role nila. Si Mick Pennisi nandun to spot up,” he said.
While he recognized that their three setbacks are necessary for the team’s growth, Vanguardia hopes they can now soar with their new-found identity.
“Nakita ko na yung progress, sana ngayon matuto kami while winning naman kasi we dropped already 3 games and we have to be in the hunt,” he said. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH