Fuel masters eye win no. 4

January 31, 2019
Abu Tratter and Beau Belga
Abu Tratter of Columbian Dyip and Beau Belga of Rain or Shine battle for ball possession in the second quarter of their game which the former won on Wednesday night. (PBA Images)

IT has never been this interesting and surprising in the PBA.

Phoenix Pulse is looking down on everybody else in the standings with its unblemished 3-0 slate, instantly becoming the toast in the Philippine Cup.

The Fuel Masters have been showing their guts to compete against the heavyweights in the league, thanks to their weapon which is, in the words of coach Louie Alas, ‘offensive firepower.’

And when their offense seems to be not working, the Fuel Masters turn to their defense, reasons why they are currently enjoying the top in the kick-off conference.

“Kapag nag-li-lead kami ng double figures, bumabalik sa old habit na mag-re-rely kami sa offensive firepower,” said Alas after the Fuel Masters’ 108-98 victory over Columbian Dyip last Jan. 23.

“Kaya ang sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Manalo tayo because of your defense.’ Siguro bata pa sa ganoong sitwasyon,” added Alas.

It’s been 10 days since that win over the Dyip, and the Fuel Masters would need to flash the same intensity and stability in both ends if they are to keep their clean slate today.

Actually, that 3-0 start is something of a surprise for Alas but he is hoping Phoenix could build on it during the 10-day break.

“Before the conference hindi ko iniisip na 3-0. Wala kasi kaming ipinanalo sa dalawang tuneup na laro, (against NLEX and Rain or Shine), pareho pang blowout losses,” related Alas.

“Kaya ang iniisip ko coming to this, makakuha lang ng .500 okay na. Sana madagdagan pa para maka-pondo kami. Hindi pa kasi kami lumalaban sa heavyweights tulad ng Ginebra, San Miguel (Beer), Magnolia.”

Interestingly, the Fuel Masters are up today against a Blackwater team that’s also sporting a new look after a so-so start.

The Elite, who have just tapped PBA legend Bogs Adornado as shooting coach, readily made a sampling of their shooting prowess as they brought down Rain or Shine, 111-99, last Wednesday in a victory that made the tournament a little bit more interesting.

The Elite had two of their top gunners in Mike DiGregorio and Allein Maliksi alternating in offense.

DiGregorio exploded for seven three-pointers and a total of 27 points while Maliksi erupted for 23 markers to underscore the tremendous firepower Blackwater unleashed in nailing their first win in three starts in the tourney.

That’s the kind of opponents that the Fuel Masters are facing in the 4:30 p.m. opening tussle of an explosive double-header at the Ynares Center in Antipolo today.

“It’s about chemistry. We had a good bonding session going to this game. We’ve got to know each other better, and there’s a lot of motivation to come out in this game,” said Digregorio.