PHOENIX may be without its best player when it kicks off its PBA Governors Cup campaign.
Swingman JC Intal is currently out of the Fuel Masters' roster owing to bone spurs in his ankle. And the possibility of him not answering the call to start the season-ending conference is very likely should he opt to undergo surgery.
New coach Ariel Vanguardia relayed the bad news shortly after the Fuel Masters wrapped up their campus tour tune-up game against the Star Hotshots at the CEU gym, which they won, 99-87, on Wednesday.
"Hindi ko lang alam if it is the left or the right ankle, but he might be out for a longer time," said Vanguardia. "Pero sana naman makabalik nga siya."
Vanguardia, who steered the KL Dragons to the Asean Basketball League (ABL) title prior to accepting the Phoenix coaching job, said Intal's absence could be extended if he goes under the knife during the conference break.
He however, said the former Gilas Pilipinas mainstay is not totally out of the conference.
"Siguro mga four to six weeks (siyang mawawala) kung matutuloy 'yung surgery para alisin yung bone spurs. Pero sana naman hindi," said the rookie Phoenix coach.
Intal has not been practicing with the Fuel Masters since last week and was not around during the game against the Hotshots.
New acquisition Mark Cruz also did not play during the tune-up owing to a slight groin injury, but cheered the Fuel Masters on from the bench as they beat his former team.
Vanguardia said the point guard from Letran will resume practicing witj Phoenix on Friday.