Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia blasted his young frontcourt duo of Prince Caperal and Norbert Torres as the Fuel Masters succumbed to their second straight lopsided loss at the hands of TNT on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Vanguardia was not pleased on how Caperal and Torres held their ground on both ends against TNT’s frontline, which dominated them after the first quarter.
“We cannot survive if no one from our bigs play decent so we got killed by their bigs,” said Vanguardia, whose team fell to 2-3 in the standings.
Caperal chipped in nine points and six rebounds while Torres was held scoreless and could only grab three boards in their 19-point loss to the Texters–efforts not enough to satisfy Vanguardia.
“Growing pains pero I challenge them na baka pag paulit-ulit na ganito baka hindi talaga tayo karapat dapat mag-invest talaga sa kanila,” said Vanguardia.
Compounding the Fuel Masters’ woes was the absence of veteran Willy Wilson in the second half, who suffered from dizziness caused by a medicine he took due to food poisoning.
Vanguardia tried switching JC Intal and Mark Borboran to the four spot during the second half, but the adjustment hardly made any difference as TNT extended its lead to as high as 28 points, before coasting for the win.
Asked if Phoenix is searching for upgrade to address its rebounding concern, Vanguardia bared its initial plan in the offseason, but their targets like JR Quiñahan, Jewel Ponferada, and Bradwyn Guinto all went to other teams.
The franchise managed to hook Doug Kramer but the former Ateneo stalwart was diagnosed with heart problem that has sidelined him for the rest of the conference.
“Alam naman namin na Prince and Norbert are not yet there kaya willing kami mag-invest sana sa kanila, pero huwag naman ganito na ganitong klase ng laro na ipakita,” said Vanguardia.
“Ipakita naman na may tigas naman, yun yung hashtag namin eh, ang nakikita ng kalaban, atakihin na yung bigs namin, doon nagsisimula lahat (ng collapse),” he pointed out. – Jason Mercene
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