Caught in a make-or-break scenario, Phoenix plans to exorcise the ghost of their past to keep their playoff hopes burning.
Coach Ariel Vanguardia hopes his Fuel Masters could to shrug off their previous struggles to pull off an improbable upset against Rain or Shine squad when they clash for the last and final spot the playoffs this Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We’ve faced adversity all conference-long, and this will be our toughest. I challenged the leaders of the team to step up and take charge,” said the first-year mentor in a text message to FOX Sports.
Vanguardia will bank on the leadership of veterans Cyrus Baguio and JC Intal along with their import Eugene Phelps.
After starting the Governors’ Cup flat with three consecutive losses, the Fuel Masters found rhythm midway with the arrival of high-scoring Phelps.
Phoenix, however, stumbled to hop on the playoff bus outright after losing back-to-back at the tailend of the eliminations that eventually opened the door for Rain or Shine to sneak in catch them at at 8th spot.
Recognizing that the Elasto Painters is a tough nut to crack in a playoff game, Vanguardia could only wish they come ‘hungrier’.
“It’s given that Rain or shine is the more experienced team but we must show that we are hungrier,” he said. “God gave us so many
chances, and we are thankful for that.”
Now, it’s time to do their part.
“It’s up to our hardwork and heart to get it done,” Vanguardia said. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH