MANILA, Philippines—Phoenix’s first playoff stint has left the team with invaluable lessons.
After finishing at no. 2 heading into the playoffs of the PBA Governors’ Cup, the Fuel Masters plummeted once the big lights shone bright and lost their twice-to-beat edge to seventh seed Meralco.
With three shots to make it to the quarterfinals again in PBA Season 44, star guard Matthew Wright and the Fuel Masters know exactly what they need to work on to make a deeper playoff run.
“It’s the same team, the same feeling, the same games, it’s just more games in a shorter amount of time and we just have to play better,” said Wright during Phoenix’s practice before the New Year.
“I guess there’s a little bit of playoff atmosphere but whatever that is we can’t let it bother us or change the way we play because at the end of the day we’re playing the same games.”
Phoenix had a lackluster performance in the first two conferences failing to enter the playoffs on both the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cups but things changed when the team acquired the mercurial Calvin Abueva in a trade with Alaska right before the Governors’ Cup.
Abueva averaged 15.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks during the eliminations for the Fuel Masters but the whole team hit a snag against the Bolts in the playoffs.
The loss is what Wright and his team are looking to avenge in their quest to become a better team in 2019.
“We still haven’t won our first playoff game as a franchise so we’ll start there,” said Wright. “We lost twice to Meralco and that’s something we want to avenge but we have a long way to go to think about the finals. We’re going to take it one game at a time.”
“We have to be a lot more disciplined come playoff time.”
Written by: Bong Lozada