UNABLE to upend San Miguel Beer’s championship experience in the first two outings, Phoenix Pulse definitely needs to give its best in Game 3 if it is to resurrect its finals hope in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Interestingly, the crucial Game 3 of the best-of-7 semifinal series is set on Easter Sunday. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
That means, the Fuel Masters have enough time to reflect, five days in all, to find ways that would help them stop the Beermen and avoid falling down to 0-3 hole which could be like getting ‘crucified’ already.
The Fuel Masters, who defeated the Beermen back in the elimination, lost in the opener of the series last Saturday, 100-88, as they realized in their first ever foray in the semis battle the level of game a team has to show in order to win.
Phoenix may have dependable gunners in Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins, Justin Chua and RJ Jazul, but things dramatically change in playoffs where experience – a championship experience at that – and other factors oftentimes affect the outcome.
Take for instance Abueva and the four others (Wright, Perkins, Chua and Jazul), they finished with 12 points or more in Game 2 where they also led by as many as 12 (40-28) late in the second quarter.
It seemed that having the upperhand in the game was for Phoenix a sort of pressure.
And that was exactly what happened: the Fuel Masters’ offense went in tatters, failing to sustain the heat as the game wore on, and allowing the Beermen to post a 92-82 win.
A 0-2 deficit in the series may be tough already, more so if you are playing a team like SMB —the league’s winningest team with 25 titles – but that is still not insurmountable.
There is still hope for the Fuel Masters though and the Lenten break is an opportune time for them to reflect on the kind of strategy they need to pull the rugs from under a mighty San Miguel team.
As in Game 1, the Beermen showed their vast experience as they surged past the Fuel Masters to take a commanding 2-0 lead last Monday in a sheer show of their might.
“We’re lucky we were able to escape from this game,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria, whose team trailed by as much as 12 points early before finding its rhythm from the third quarter on.
“We knew from the start that this would be a hard game. Very evident in the first half. Everything that we do, they knew how to stop us. Fortunately, our players refused to lose. They know the importance of this game, maybe because of their experience,” added Austria.
At 2-0, the Beermen put themselves well on the right direction in their bid to capture a record fifth straight title in the prestigious conference.
Another win on Sunday will put the Beermen a win away from the finals of the kickoff conference where they would play either Rain or Shine or sister team Magnolia.
The Elasto Painters, who are enjoying a 2-0 lead in their separate semifinal series, and the Hotshots were still playing in Game 3 as of press time.