PHOENIX Petroleum is ready and raring to get back into action when the 2020 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) returns next month.
After being sidelined for more than six months now due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Phoenix coach Louie Alas and the Fuel Masters hope to take the floor and play basketball in an NBA-inspired bubble to be created by the league.
Alas also said he expects Calvin Abueva, the “Beast” himself, to be with the team when they play again during the PBA restart.
“We’re all excited to play even now. The whole Phoenix team from the players to the coaching staff is ready to get back into playing basketball again,” said Alas during the 11th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) yesterday.
Alas said Abueva will be a major part of the Fuel Masters’ campaign in the restart.
“If you ask me, I think he (Abueva) will be finally allowed to play for us again. He is very remorseful sa mga nangyari. Nakita niya yun naging epekto ng nagawa nya sa kanyang pamilya, pati sa aming team. Nagawa na din niya yun mga requirements na ibinigay sa kanya ng PBA, gaya ng mga outreach program,” explained Alas during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“Sabi nga ni Calvin, may mga unfinished business sya dito sa atin sa PBA. May mga offer na maglaro sya sa Japan D-League, pero mas pinili nya na mag-stay dito sa atin kasama ang pamilya niya,” added the 56-year-old Alas.
A former national team coach, Alas denied reports that Abueva will be traded by Phoenix.
“If I will be the one to decide, Abueva will not be traded to any team. Nakita naman natin yun nagawa nya para sa team.“ explained Alas, who led the Philippine team to the gold medal in the 1999 Southeast Asian Games in Brunei.
“You just have to look at our performances as a team last year. Sa First Confernece, nag No. 2 kami and we’re only one game away from the semis nun natalo kami sa Meralco,” said Alas.
“Sa Second Confernece, naka-tapat namin ang San Miguel Beer and we know malakas sila talaga. Sa Third COnference, I think we’re only two to three possessions away bago natalo sa endgame.”
Alas, who is also best remembered for leading the Letran Knights to three NCAA championships in 1998, 2003 and 2005, said he fuly support the PBA decision to create a bubble for the PBA restart.
“Personally, I support the plan of the PBA to hold a bubble 100 percent. First and foremost, we have the give our kababayans, especially the basketball fans, the feeling of normalcy,” said Alas.
“Unlike now na puro replays ng PBA ang napapanood sa cable. If we have the opportuity na makapanood ang mga tao ng PBA games, it’s good. Kahit wala pang audience, maganda na yun may basketball para makaramdam tayo ng sense of normalcy.”
Alas’ major concerns, however, are the exact venue of the bubble and the length of the tournament proper.
“Maganda yun plano to hold the PBA games at the Araneta Coliseum and the teams will stay at the nearby Novotel Hotel. OK din magkaroon ng bubble dun sa Inspire Sports Academy gym sa Calamba, Laguna or even sa Clark,” said Alas.
“I have not yet seen the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna. Dun sana kami mag team building before nagkaroon ng pandemic. But I heard talagang maganda dun. The facilities are very excellent at madaming courts.”
“The question lang is gaano kahaba yun tournament at gaano katagal mag-stay ang mga teams dun. Yun NBA bubble sa Orlando, we know madaming recreational activities na pwedeng puntahan ang mga players para hindi mainip. Recently, kasama na din nila ang pamilya nila dun.”
Alas admitted he is serving a 15-day suspension by Phoneix for violation of health and safety protocols being followed by the PBA based on the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force.
“Our team Phoenix wants to set an example, na kailangan lahat sumunod. Lalo na ako na coach. Para sa safety din naman natin lahat ito,” admitted Alas.
Also present during the two-hour long session shown live on YouTube and Facebook were Philippine Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) president Ting Ledesma, former PBA player Edgardo “Ed” Cordero of PBA champion Toyota and Lia Calingacion and Krizanne Ty of Game On Sports PH.
Veteran sportscaster Ernest Leo Hernandez served as the program moderator.