For first-year Phoenix head coach Louie Alas, there were reasons as to why the Fuel Masters ran out of gas in chasing the final 2018 Philippine Cup playoff bus: exhaustion due to a tight schedule, and a shortened rotation due to injuries.
But he does not want to use those as excuses.
“Medyo mababaw din yung personnel ko, nabawasan pa ng dalawang kasama sa major rotation,” rued Alas as he lost center Justin Chua to appendicitis and floor general LA Revilla to a right wrist injury.
“‘Di ko ginagawang alibi yan, pero yun lang talaga yung basa ko.”
This comes after Phoenix’s aspirations in extending their All-Filipino campaign by going to the quarterfinals were doused, as they got destroyed by Jayson Castro and TNT Katropa, 97-118, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
They may have been eliminated this Sunday, but the outspoken mentor believes that their run had already ended when they lost to Meralco and Blackwater in the eliminations — games that were just a week apart.
“‘Di naman natapos yung conference namin sa game na ito. Natapos siya dun sa game namin against Meralco, against Blackwater,” said Alas, as those games both went down the wire and tested their skill in closing out matches.
And closing out games is what Alas vows to work on with his wards as they now set their sights into the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup. But first, according to the veteran bench strategist, Phoenix will rest for a couple of weeks.
“Two weeks lang. Wala kaming karapatang magbakasyon ng matagal kasi ‘di kami kasing lakas ng ibang teams,” said Alas.
“Kailangang mas mahaba ang practice namin, mas mahirap ang practice namin.”
The next conference looks bright for the Fuel Masters, as Alas bared that their reinforcement would be the young James White, who can now be considered a PBA veteran due to his stints with Mahindra (now Kia) before.
“He’ll be arriving at the 13th,” said Alas. “Maikli lang ang bakasyon, baka wala pa sa kundisyon, kailangan ng training nun. Papa-personal workout ko sa trainer namin, with me para makita ko yung development niya.
“I think he’s a perfect fit kasi rim protector yun. Hindi explosive scorer pero magaling dumepensa.”