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.
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.
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.
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.
Matthew Wright Scored 12 Points Against Japan and he earned most of them from the Stripes
The 26-year-old Filipino-Canadian sharpshooter played more minutes than the best player of the game Jayson Castro at 29 minutes. Matthew Wright was a marked man from the start as he is well known for his exemplary shooting from the outside.
Against Japan, however, Matthew Wright had to settle getting his points from the free throw line. Matthew scored one 2-pointers and a 3-pointers in the game and the rest was earned with free throws. Matthew could not get himself going from the outside shooting (1/4) but his free throws did not fail him with a perfect 7/7 free throw percentage.
While the Philippines was able to escape a tough Japanese foe with the score of 77-71, it is evident that we need to improve our overall shooting. As a team, Gilas Pilipinas only shot at 38% percent and this is below average. It was our lucky night as Japan shot much poorer with only 34.8% from the field.
Matthew who is one of our main gunners needs to further improve his shooting as he only shot 33%.
Gilas Pilipinas’ next assignment will be Taiwan on November 27. The game will be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the Philippines.
Here is the amazing running jump shot at the buzzer!