By Waylon Galvez
(Ynares Sports Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. – NLEX vs Columbian Dyip
6:45 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Phoenix Fuel
Phoenix Fuel mentor Louie Alas hopes the short preparation from their conference debut would be enough to reverse their fortune when they face TNT KaTropa in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup today at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
The Fuel Masters blew a 22-point lead against the Blackwater Elite last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, barely hanging on to score a 107-102 victory.
Alas was quick to point out his team’s inability to sustain a big lead, and he’s looking to correct these and other mistakes in their 6:45 p.m. match against a formidable TNT squad.
“Yun din ang sakit namin last conference,” said Alas, referring to their complacency.
Phoenix was enjoying a 42-20 cushion when it chose to sit on it and Blackwater rallied to tie the score, 98-all, with 2:32 left.
Phoenix’s high-leaping import James White scored on a follow-up dunk following a miss by Matthew Wright, and then Willie Wilson completed a three-point play that gave the team a five-point advantage, 103-98, with a minute to play.
White, on his second stint in the PBA after initially suiting up for Kia (now Columbian Dyip), scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to go with five assists and five blocks despite cramping late in the game.
The team also got solid performances from its locals as Wright had 19 points and Justin Chua played an impressive game with 17 points and nine boards as he battled GlobalPort import Jarrid Famous on equal terms.
Alas hopes their balanced scoring carries on to the TNT game.
“We’ll take it. It was a good character win, and we hope to bring that to our game against TNT,” Alas said.
The locals of KaTropa are expected to deliver the goods again after Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and new recruit Terrence Romeo combined for 52 points in their game against GlobalPort.
TNT import Jeremy Tyler, a former Charlotte Bobcat draft pick in the NBA, only finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds and he is expected to play better after shooting just 5-of-10 from the field with four turnovers.