Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia wants to leave the numbers behind as they brace for the struggling Star’s uphill climb bid to the playoffs.
The Fuel Masters will face the skidding Hotshots, who have lost 4 straight games, on Friday’s curtain raiser set at 4:15 p.m at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Vanguardia’s wards are currently still sitting at the middle of the pack with a 3-4 record, but with the battle for positioning getting tighter, the Fuel Masters couldn’t lightly take out Star’s deep roster.
“We cannot look at the record now, we know for a fact that they are still a star-studded team,” said Vanguardia to FOX Sports over the phone. “We have to play our best to have a shot against Star.”
The former KL Dragons head coach is wary of the opposition’s shooting capacity, with the likes of veteran guards James Yap, Peter June Simon and Mark Barroca all ready to explode at any given time.
“We need to be on our top defensive game, kasi pag nag shoot out, baka maubusan kami ng bala,” he said.
Another point of concern for Phoenix will be controlling Hotshots’ import Joel Wright, who just came up short against rival Ginebra last Sunday.
“Wright will be gonna be match-up problem for us, he’s athletic and he is playing different compared to our import (Eugene Phelps),” Vanguardia pointed out.
The game will also be a reunion of sorts for Vanguardia and former ABL player Justin Melton who were together in the Westport Malaysia Dragons in 2012. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH