Louie Alas called on the Fuel Masters to remain hungry despite already stringing together five wins midway through the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
Sporting a 5-1 record for a solo second place behind the unbeaten Blackwater Elite, this is their best start in franchise history.
With this, the Fuel Masters already have one foot inside the eight-team playoff race of the season-ending conference.
But nothing is cast in stone yet, with five games to go in their elimination campaign, explaining why Alas is urging the Fuel Masters to take their foot off the pedal until that first playoff ticket under his watch has been secured.
“Hindi mo pa masasabi kasi ang dami namin sa taas eh. Puro one game behind lang sa amin,” he said, after the Fuel Masters clinched their third straight win at the expense of the Magnolia Hotshots, 95-82, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Phoenix didn’t manage to make it to the playoffs in the first two conferences, and this is their best chance to make that breakthrough, especially with a bolstered line-up due to the addition of Calvin Abueva and the return of resident import Eugene Phelps.
But Alas’ sights are not set not on securing a playoff spot only, as he looks to steer Phoenix to a top four finish for one of the twice-to-beat incentives.
“Iba yung format ngayon – 1-4 is twice to beat. So win as much as you can, kahit nasa playoffs ka na.”
Indeed, the season-ending conference fields a different format compared to the first two conferences, as the top four squads after the 11-game elimination will be blessed with twice-to-beat advantages against the fifth-to-eighth seeds.
Good thing for the Fuel Masters, they have already compiled wins heading into their remaining five games, which will be a killer stretch against contending teams – starting against the shorthanded defending champions, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, on Saturday.
“Puro malalakas starting on Saturday against Ginebra,” he said.
“Ginebra alam mo naman yan next man up yan. Kahit five guys lang maglalaro, kahit depleted sila, kailangan A-game namin dalhin namin.”