PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia was quick to shift his sights to the PBA Governors’ Cup after his team saw its Commissioner’s Cup campaign come to an end on Tuesday night with a 115-96 loss to San Miguel Beer in their quarterfinal matchup.
The Fuel Masters clinched a third straight playoff berth in only their second season in the league, but again came out empty-handed after facing the mighty Beermen, who hardly broke a sweat in knocking them out.
“We thanked God for not missing the quarterfinals, but we got to get over that hump and hopefully by next conference we get that first playoff win for Phoenix,” Vanguardia said as he welcomed the upcoming return of prolific import Eugene Phelps.
“Hopefully with Eugene Phelps helping us next conference to get that first playoff win na very elusive,” he added.
Vanguardia stuck to the positives as he saw the rapid growth of rookies Matthew Wright and Gelo Aolino as well as their team expectedly getting a higher draft pick next season owing to the early exit.
“We're staying positive, we got better in the draft,” Vanguardia said. “I think looking forward Matt and Gelo, we got the best draft. I think Gelo has proven that on the first round or kung ano mang round yun, he's the best dun sa mga yun – even better than the first pick.”
“Then Matt's proven he can be our future,” he added. “Yung mga positive na ganun, si Joseph (Eriobu) up and coming.”
Alolino was one of only three locals to score in double digits against the Beermen with 11 points along with two boards, two assists, and one steal in 20 minutes off the bench. Wright, on the other hand, was held to just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting and failed to grab a single board, although he dished out seven assists and had one steal in 30 minutes as a starter.
“Natapat lang talaga na match-up problem sa amin ang San Miguel,” Vanguardia said. “But we're very positive na that foundation, macarry kami sa future, especially sa third conference. Playoff team tayo eh, kaya natin, kailangan makuha namin.”