THE Phoenix Fuel Masters rose from the ashes as they posted their best regular season record in franchise history — placing second in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations with a 8-3 win-loss slate.
Led by Eugene Phelps’ rampage, the Fuel Masters were 5-1 in their first six games — with quality wins against playoff teams in Meralco and Magnolia. The Dennis Uy-backed team was able to finish off their remaining assignments, except against SMC teams in San Miguel and Ginebra.
Entering into the playoffs, Phoenix had a twice-to-beat advantage versus the seventh-seeded Meralco. However, the Bolts surged to win two straight games against them, getting eliminated prematurely.
Today, FOX Sports Philippines takes a look at the Fuel Masters and how they fared overall this conference.
It’s no surprise as to why Phoenix has been one of the more explosive teams this conference, as they were fourth in points per game (103.4), third overall in fastbreak points per game (15.4), and first overall in rebounds (57.2). On the flip side, however, the Fuel Masters were turnover-prone (17.4, third) and they struggled mightily in making the most out of their charities from the stripe (59%, last).
With their high-octane attack, the Fuel Masters scored a minimum of 95 points in all their regular season contests. In their wins, Phoenix was able to blow past their opponents with an average winning margin of 17.3. Meanwhile, in their losses, their losing margin was -10.0 points per game.
Eugene Phelps has played extremely well in this import-laden conference, notching norms of 29.7 points, 18.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.6 steals, and 2.9 blocks in 39.4 minutes of action. With his endless forays to the basket along with his relentlessness on defense, the hulking reinforcement notably had a string of 50-point games against Columbian and NLEX.
So far, acquiring Calvin Abueva has paid dividends for head coach Louie Alas as he posted averages of 15.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists this tourney. Sharpshooter Matthew Wright and Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Perkins both averaged double-digits in scoring with 14.7 and 12.9 respectively.
Looking forward, what can we expect from Phoenix?
Head coach Louie Alas and Co. would have to be gleaming with confidence coming into the next season after their subpar outings in the last All-Filipino Cup and Commissioner’s Cup. With the squad slated to have at least a top-five draft pick, they have an asset to which they can add on to what they have currently.
With a bevy of choices at their disposal, Phoenix could either nab a frontliner like Abu Tratter or get a young floor general in Trevis Jackson or Robert Bolick. Add along to their core consisting of Abueva, Wright, and Perkins, the team might raise some eyebrows starting next season if things fall into place.