THE Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters look to secure the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals (QF) of the PBA Philippine Cup complication-free when they take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on the final play date of the elimination round on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga.
Currently sporting a 7-3 record, good for joint second place, the Fuel Masters are in a good position to land one of the quarterfinal incentives given to the top four teams at the end of the eliminations of the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) tournament.
A win by Phoenix in its 6:45 p.m. clash with Rain or Shine assured for it at least the third seed in the quarterfinals, but a loss could be tricky as it opens the possibility of the team being in a 7-4 logjam with five other squads which could see it dropping in the seeding, even outside of the top four, depending on the quotient which is in effect to break ties.
The Fuel Masters did their top-four push a boost on Monday when they dug deep to come from behind and beat also-rans Blackwater Elite, 100-95.
Down by as much 16 points at one point in the second half, Phoenix showed tremendous resolve to claw its way back past Blackwater for the important win.
The duo of Jason Perkins and Calvin Abueva towed their team to the victory, registering solid numbers.
Mr. Perkins finished with 18 points, 3-of-5 from three-point territory, and 12 rebounds for Phoenix, with Mr. Abueva being his all-around self with 17 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Matthew Wright also had 17 points while Brian Heruela had 15 for the Fuel Masters, who won their third straight game with the victory.
While they welcome the chance to finish in the top four, Phoenix coach Topex Robinson said primary for the team still is bringing out the best out of themselves, regardless of where they end up in the seeding. “We never look at where we are because everything is getting tighter and tighter right now. Again, I said just be the best version of ourselves and roll. We don’t have any control with the other teams, but we have 100 percent control of how we would be,” Mr. Robinson was quoted by the official PBA website as saying after their win.
Meanwhile, out to derail the push of Phoenix is Rain or Shine, in eighth place and still not assured of a spot in the quarterfinals as of this writing but was hoping to change that with a win over the TNT Tropang Giga later on Tuesday.
Also seeing action on the last playing date of the eliminations are the NLEX Road Warriors (4-6) versus Terrafirma Dyip (1-9) at 10 a.m., Northport Batang Pier (1-8) against the Meralco Bolts (6-4) at 1 p.m., and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok (6-4) vs. Blackwater (2-8) at 4 p.m. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo