NOT a lot of people know that Phoenix coach Louie Alas lost it and gave his players an earful in its 92-82 Game Two defeat to San Miguel on Monday night.
It turned out that dressing down was the wake-up call the Fuel Masters needed to get their bearings back and make it a series against the Beermen in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
Calvin Abueva shared that Alas' postgame tirades lit a fire in the team, enabling Phoenix to score a 92-90 win in a Game Three thriller on Sunday.
"Actually nung Game Two, na-rattle kami kay coach Louie dahil nagalit siya. Talagang nagwala siya. Kaya pagdating naman ng practice, bumawi kami at naging cool na siya. Kaya kami, wala na kaming inisip kung hindi itong Game Three," the energetic forward said.
It also helped that the Holy Week break reinvigorated the players, especially Abueva who pumped in 18 points to go with13 rebounds, five assists, and two steals in 37 minutes of action.
"Ilang days ang lumipas na hindi sunod-sunod ang games, nagkaroon kami ng pagkakataon makapag-pahinga. Na-remember namin na kailangan naming bumawi sa game na ito," he said.
Abueva, however, couldn't help but take a swipe at the referees for the 41 fouls the Fuel Masters were called for in another highly-physical affair.
"Nagpapasalamat kami na nakuha namin itong Game Three. Di kami gumive up sa mga tawag ng mga referees," he said before turning his attention to the defending champions.
"Hindi rin bihira ang kalaban na ito. Lumalaban din sa physicality. Alam natin na malakas sila at kaya nilang kunin itong Game Three, pero syempre hindi kami nagpatinag at nilabanan namin hanggang huli.
"Kailangan lang naming gawin yung sinasabi ni coach sa sistema namin kung paano kami makaka-iskor."
The series has, so far, lived up to expectations as it is turning into a rough-and-tumble collision between the feisty Phoenix and the powerhouse San Miguel - exactly how Abueva wants it.
Game Four is set on Tuesday at Cuneta Astrodome - one that Abueva is already looking forward to this early.
"Kita-kita tayo sa Game Four," he said before bolting out of the Smart Araneta Coliseum.