AFTER Phoenix’s tune-up game against Star at Greenhills West Village on Saturday morning, Eugene Phelps was planning to go to the mall to find a pair of reading glasses after losing his old pair.
“Back at home, somebody broke into my car and stole my glasses,” the Los Angeles, California native related in a chat with SPIN.ph after the Fuel Masters’ 98-92 win.
While he doesn’t need to wear goggles during games, the Phoenix import is practically blind off the court.
“When it comes to basketball, I’ll be good because it’s all mind thing,” Phelps said. “As long as you see where the basket is at, you know what to do.”
“But outside, I need glasses to read or watch TV or something,” he added as he pointed to his front, a few rows from where he was seated. “If there was a TV right there, I couldn’t see it.”
Asked what the grade of his glasses was, Phelps chuckled.
“I have no idea; I know it’s bad, though,” the 27-year-old cager said.
But while his vision off the court is blurry, his sight on it for the Fuel Masters is as clear as day.
“Our goal is to be Top Four,” Phelps beamed, noting that a finish of such in the eliminations comes with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, with the league also giving the incentive to the Top Three and Four seeds unlike last conference.
“We got a pretty good team,” he added. “As long as we keep getting better and better, I believe we can pull off upsets and we should win the games that we should win. We just got to take it game by game and see what happens.”
Let’s see if Phelps can still shoot straight and sustain his reputation of breaching the 50-point barrier in his first games in a conference as the Fuel Masters make their debut against Kia on opening night on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“We’ll see,” said the man known as “El Destructor”, who dropped 52 markers in his debut in the last edition of the season-ending tournament, before exploding for 53 in his first and only game as an stop-gap reinforcement in the last Commissioner’s Cup. “I’m pretty sure teams know me now, so they’ll send double-teams.”
“But I have good players around me, so if anything, I’d rather try to get a triple-double than fifty (points),” he added. “So if I get double-teamed and I see a wide-open guy, I’m not going to force a shot up. I believe in them. They’re going to make wide-open shots.”
“As long as we win, that’s all I really care about,” he continued.
After leading the Fuel Masters to their first playoff berth in their franchise history with averages of 36.1 points, 19.8 boards, four assists, and 0.8 block in 42.6 minutes in nine games in the eliminations of the last Governors’ Cup, Phelps believes this current batch is destined for more.
“I think this is a stronger team,” Phelps said. “We have more chemistry."
"I missed two, three games last conference (Govs Cup), but this conference, I’ve been here for a month, so I kinda know everybody, where they like the ball or what type of plays," he added. "I think it’s a lot better chemistry and a lot better team than last year.”