SINCE the return of Calvin Abueva from his 16-month suspension, the Phoenix Super LPG Phoenix Fuel Masters have become a contender in the PBA Season 45 Philippine Cup.
The Fuel Masters will aim to clinch a Top 4 spot when they face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the final play game of the single round-robin elimination round on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga.
The Fuel Masters are in the third spot with a 7-3 win loss record, and a win would assure them a slot in the Top 4 that comes with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Phoenix star Calvin Abueva tries to elude Richard Escoto of Blackwater Elite on Nov. 9, 2020 at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO
Phoenix, one of the league’s dark horses, entered the PBA bubble without high expectations as newly appointed coach Topex Robinson still didn’t have the do-it-all forward Abueva.
With the absence of Abueva, it was Matthew Wright who did the lifting for the Fuel Masters as he averaged 24 points, 5.7 boards and 5.8 dimes in 10 games. He’s second in the league’s scoring production, behind Terrafirma’s CJ Perez, who norms 24.1 points.
“Again, we just want to be the best version of ourselves and roll,” said Robinson.
The Fuel Masters will be on high-morale against the Elasto Painters after coming off a come-from-behind 100-96 win over the Blackwater Elite on Monday.
Phoenix will try to capitalize on the fatigue-factor against Rain or Shine, which will play back-to-back games in a span of two days. The Elasto Painters battle powerhouse Tropang Giga on Tuesday before facing Phoenix today, November 11.
The other two games involving the Meralco Bolts (6-4) and the Magnolia Pambansang Manok (6-4) and the NLEX Road Warriors (4-6) are also crucial in determining the ranking and cast for the next round.
The Bolts will face Northport Batang Pier (1-8) at 1 p.m. It will be a non-bearing game for the Batang Pier as they’re already eliminated in the playoff race.
Magnolia squares off with the Blackwater Elite at 4 p.m. while NLEX faces Terrafirma in the opening game of the quadruple billing.
NLEX is currently at ninth place and a win would help their chances of making it to the Top 8. The Road Warriors fate, however, is not solely on their hands as it needs two losses from Rain or Shine for them to punch a quarterfinals ticket.