AFTER picking up a morale-boosting victory on Wednesday, Phoenix is now gearing up for an all-important match on Saturday against Blackwater that will likely determine the fourth seed in the quarterfinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Phoenix is currently in fourth spot with a 7-3 card, but is being followed closely by Blackwater with a 6-3 slate. Also still in striking distance is San Miguel, whose three-game winning streak has bumped it up to sixth spot with a 5-4 slate.
The top four seeds will have twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
“’Yung against Blackwater, fight for placing ‘yun,” Phoenix coach Louie Alas said. “But may complication pa rin na puwedeng mangyari. We just have to take care of business. Puwede kaming mag-number two to four. Kailangan manalo talaga. Must-win.”
Phoenix players are also well aware of the importance of the game, knowing that their gains this conference won’t matter if they lose to Blackwater on Saturday.
“It’s going to be big,” said point guard LA Revilla, who finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and six assists in his first-ever win against Rain or Shine in his PBA career.
Revilla though said their 103-97 win over the Elastopainters will go to waste with a loss to Blackwater.
“I think eto ‘yung pinaka-crucial game namin this conference. Etong panalo namin (against Rain or Shine) won’t matter if matalo kami sa Blackwater. Blackwater is one of the teams na nagba-battle sa top four,” said Revilla.
Phoenix import Eugene Phelps had the same sentiment.
“It’s a huge game. That’s like our season on the line because I guess if we lose, we could probably drop to six or seven. Obviously, if we win, we get top four and we will probably face them again. It’s big for us especially for a young franchise. We have to play our A-game,” said Phelps.
Phelps, meanwhile, is glad the team overcame a 16-point deficit against Rain or Shine.
“It shows big character of the team,” said Phelps. “We could have easily put our heads down but we knew top four is on the line. All we have to do is take it step by step, get a stop, get a bucket, and eventually, we ended up coming back and getting the win. It feels good but we have one more game. We can’t relax.”
Alas though hopes Phoenix will not play the same way as the Fuel Masters did after they trailed by 16 points in the contest.
“Honestly, if we play the same way as Blackwater, we can’t win. Lots of bad habits and we have to arrest it. We have to check it. Good thing na-foul trouble ‘yung import nila. But as I’ve said, Henry Walker is very, very smart. We have to do a lot better against Blackwater,” Alas said.