Baptism of fire for Phoenix as it makes PBA debut against Al Thornton-led NLEX
Coach Koy Banal is confident big man Kenny Adeleke would complement his small ball system. Jaime Campos

PHOENIX Petroleum will have its baptism of fire against NLEX in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Fuel Masters, representing the Davao-based company that was approved as the league’s newest franchise, parade the holdovers from a Barako Bull side that exceeded expectations in the Philippine Cup by making the playoffs despite its low ranking in the preseason.

JC Intal, Willie Wilson, and RR Garcia continue to banner the squad expected to thrive in a small-ball brand of basketball anew, but will now be anchored by a 6-foot-8 Nigerian big man in Kenny Adeleke.

“Yun pa rin tayo,” Fuel Masters coach Koy Banal said. “Nakakatakbo naman kami last conference. Ang maganda lang, we have a big man who can get those rebounds so we can continue to run.”

“He would attract defense and hopefully, we will have open shooters who can hopefully knock down those threes,” he added.

The Fuel Masters immediately get tested in the 4:15 encounter against the Road Warriors, who boast prolific import Al Thornton.

The NBA veteran exploded for 50 points in an overtime win over Ginebra last Friday and is once again expected to shoulder the offensive load for the Road Warriors, who also draw local support from Asi Taulava and Sean Anthony.

Meralco, bannered by Arinze Onuaku, seeks to sustain its unbeaten two-game start as it takes on Rain or Shine, led by Wayne Chism, in the second game of the double-header at 7 o’clock.

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