Phoenix is a Different Team- Yeng Guiao

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

NLEX coach stays wary of the Fuel Masters ahead of their encounter

The Phoenix Fuel Masters have come a long way from the way they debuted back in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup. Even though they lost their first game under their new coach, Louie Alas to open the 2017 Philippine Cup, the Fuel Masters bounced back against the still winless, Kia Picanto as the former exploded for 125 points. That’s why one particular coach in the PBA remains wary of what this Phoenix team can do. That coach is none other than Yeng Guiao whose NLEX Road Warriors are scheduled to open 2018 with an encounter against the team who beat them during the pre-season.
And Yeng Guiao has all the reasons to worry about the Phoenix Fuel Masters. After all, it was Phoenix who handed Guiao his first ever defeat in his coaching stint with NLEX although the Road Warriors took the next two encounters. And aside from having a new coach in Alas, the Fuel Masters have a drastically different roster compared to what they had before.
Yeng Guiao took notice that Phoenix has a healthy Matthew Wright and of course, one of his former players in Jeff Chan who played under Guiao during his stint with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. But more importantly, the occasionally hot-headed coach also noted that the Fuel Masters are now bannered by one of the promising rookies in the 2017 draft: Jason Perkins.
Aside from the key players and the new coach of Phoenix, Yeng Guiao has other things to worry about with regards to their first game of the year. The coach is worried that the holiday break took some of the sharpness from the Road Warriors which enabled Kiefer Ravena and company to win the first two games of the new season.

Conclusion

Fortunately for the Road Warriors, Yeng Guiao is someone who always gets what he wants from his players. If he demands 110% focus on the game at hand, he will definitely get it. Why? Who would enjoy being yelled at by Yeng Guiao aside from being benched? Unfortunately for the Fuel Masters, they have no one to stop Kiefer Ravena.
Prediction: NLEX will win.

Phoenix Explodes for 125 Points against Kia

Justin Chua Phoenix PBA
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Justin Chua leads a balanced attack by the Fuel Masters.

The Phoenix Fuel Masters entered the league’s 43rd season with lots of confidence owing to the fact that they have one of the talented young rosters in the PBA today. They have sharpshooter Matthew Wright who is also one of the vital pieces in the national team. They also have JC Intal who can provide the leadership because of his experience and longevity in the league. But most importantly, they have Jason Perkins, a super rookie who can bang his body with some of the elite big men in the league. And, they have a new coach in Louie Alas.
After faltering in their first assignment to open the Philippine Cup, Phoenix bounced back, big time. They overwhelmed the still winless, Kia Picanto, 125-102. And nobody from the Fuel Masters has scored above 15 points. So just imagine the damage if Perkins and company exploded for more. Scary, isn’t it?
What happened in the game? Below are the numbers:

125 Points and a Balanced Attack

Sure, scoring 125 points is big for a team such as Phoenix but the beauty of it is that nobody has to force himself to score more because of the fact that they had 8 guys who scored in double figures:
  • Justin Chua- 15 points
  • Matthew Wright- 15 points
  • JC Intal- 15 points
  • RJ Jazul- 13 points
  • Gelo Alonino- 13 points
  • Jason Perkins- 12 points
  • Doug Kramer- 12 points
  • Joseph Eriobu- 11 points

Firing on All Cylinders

Phoenix shot 55% from the field including a 56% shooting from the three-point line. They had help from everyone as evident by the 72 points that the bench players of Louie Alas have accumulated. While doing that, the Fuel Masters also limited the Picanto to only 44% field goal shooting which included a horrible 34% from rainbow distance. The only area that Kia was able to outperform Phoenix was at the free throw line where Kia shot 95% compared to Phoenix who only made 55% of their free throws.

Rebounds and Second-Chance Points

Rebounds and second-chance points were two departments where the Fuel Masters had dominated all throughout the game. They had a 53-39 edge on the boards, including a 17-9 advantage on the offensive rebounds. That dominance on the offensive rebounds allowed Phoenix to subsequently get 19 second-chance points while Kia could only manage 6 points off their missed opportunities. 

Conclusion

Now that Phoenix has rebounded from their opening day defeat, this will help in terms of allowing the team to  build a sense of confidence that yes, despite being a young team with a new coach, they can play against the elite teams in the league and yes, they can beat teams at any given day. 
For Kia, they have fallen to 0-2. However, the conference is still in its early stage and they can definitely get better. They just need to act quickly. 

PBA Opening Day Crowd: Too Many Vacated Seats

Yesterday’s crowd was an indication of the fans’ displeasure towards the league

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

The PBA is back, ladies and gentlemen!

After a week of uncertainties which regards to whether or not we will get to witness the opening of the 43rd season of the league- on schedule, the PBA is back, folks. But, it didn’t start without drama, of course.
Just minutes prior to the opening ceremony, all 12 board members, led by PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas, held a press conference to announce that soon-to-be-ex PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa has submitted his resignation but will be staying in office until the end of December to help during the transition. 
Then, came along the opening ceremony which featured some of the most beautiful ladies in the land as muses of the teams led by 2017 Miss World Philippines, Laura Lauhmann who was the chosen muse of the Talk N Text Ka Tropa. Then, the 12 team governors came to the center court to unveil the trophy that will be hosted by the champions of this conference come the Finals. 
Then, the main event came around as the San Miguel Beermen opened their title defense against the newly-reloaded Phoenix Fuel Masters who also have a new coach in Louie Alas. While the Fuel Masters managed to even take the lead during the early moments of the first half, the Beermen showed why they are the defending champions and probably, the best all-Filipino team that was assembled as they went on to win, 104-96.
While the game showed glimpses of what we can expect from the Fuel Masters, most especially from the rookie, Jason Perkins who had 10 points and 9 rebounds, the game also featured a notably high number of unoccupied seats around the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 
Some pundits thought that the low attendance during the league’s opening night game is one of the clear indications that PBA fans are no longer ignited by the way the league was operated during the last couple of seasons. And whether we like it or not, part of that lack of excitement from fans is the issue that has been raised for the longest time: inconsistency on the part of the referees. Although there are other possible reasons as to why there were many unoccupied seats last night, the league should take this low attendance seriously. They should listen to the fans.

Conclusion

Who knows? The resignation of Chito Narvasa MIGHT be the start of a new beginning for the PBA. If anything, the league has a lot of works to do if they intend to get back the excitement of the fans towards the PBA and changing commissioner is only a small step towards achieving that goal.