Two games into the PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix continues to show that it has learned from its mistakes last year.
The Fuel Masters, who are off to a blistering 2-0 start, have scored both of their victories on overtimes. For the squad, that’s a huge positive—exhaustion notwithstanding—considering their history of playing in extra periods last year.
“We have two OTs in two games. More than the win, the experience to play a close game kasi last conference, ‘yung mga ganyang game natatalo kami eh. It’ll be a very very good experience for us,” head coach Louie Alas said after their second victory against TNT last Friday.
“We really have to dig down deep in those kinds of situations. I’m happy that we looked like the more conditioned team,” Matthew Wright, who finished with 23 point, explained. “We came off an overtime game so we’re much more experienced in that department than they are.
Phoenix held sizeable cushions in those two wins before finishing flat and allowing the game to go the distance. But composure in the face of pressure, brought about by past experience, has emerged as the story so far for them early in the conference.
“Phoenix of the past would’ve lost,” Wright said. “We would’ve crumbled by then. But we stuck together, we’re becoming more experienced, and we’re becoming more of a veteran team.”
Now that they have more or less an idea on how to finish off their opponents, the problem now will be fine-tuning the rest of an offense that has made only 33 percent of its shots in the first two contests, including an 8-for-43 mark (18.6 percent) from downtown.
“We still gotta push on and we gotta make shots. But I don’t think we’re gonna shoot that bad. Again. I hope not,” Wright noted.
They’ll have a chance to hike those numbers as they take on Columbian Dyip, who took down a giant in San Miguel to open their 2019 PBA season last week.
“Hopefully they’d be overconfident. It was their first game, they’re still young, so we’re gonna try and jump them early, We’ve got more experience than them. We feel like we’re a better team, so hopefully it doesn’t go to overtime and we end the game in regulation,” Wright said.
“Mas happy kami kapag naging 3-0 kasi kalaban namin galing sa big win eh. It’ll be a good fight,” said Alas.