Vanguardia says lack of familiarity with Phoenix behind benching of prized acquisition Baguio
Cyrus Baguio was in uniform but didn't play for Phoenix just a few days after being acquired in a trade with Alaska. Czeasar Dancel

PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia explained his decision to bench Cyrus Baguio in his first game for the Fuel Masters on Friday against Meralco in their opener of the PBA Governors’ Cup.

The Fuel Masters coach noted that Baguio, acquired from Alaska in a trade completed on Wednesday, had only practiced for just an hour with his new team on Thursday.

Still, Vanguardia had thoughts of fielding the veteran shooting guard, even asking deputy Nic Belasco's advice, when the Fuel Masters had the chance to win the game.

“Honestly, I asked Nic in the fourth quarter, ‘Nic, will I bring in Cyrus?’ He said, ‘Why not?’ but it just goes against all my principles of preparing,” Vanguardia admitted after their 108-103 loss. “He could’ve helped us, but I don’t want to give all the burden to him.”

“But I know in the endgame, I can call his number,” he was quick to add. “It’s just that he had one hour to practice with us…so I couldn’t give him the playing time he deserves.”

Baguio agreed with his coach, admitting it would’ve been unfair to the rest of the regulars who have been practicing for the Fuel Masters for a while now.

“Sinabi niya na pang-emergency ako, pero alam ko naman na hindi ako magagamit kasi unfair talaga sa iba na matagal na nag-practice,” the 13-year veteran said. “Kailangan ko rin mag-practice ng matagal para makuha ko yung system.”

But Vanguardia is confident for the rest of the tournament, despite their opening loss, now that he knows he has a go-to guy in Baguio at crunch time.

“Medyo hindi pa namin alam kung kanino kami pupunta sa endgame (kanina), pero baka ito na: si Cyrus,” the rookie coach beamed.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos