Veteran Marvin Hayes, rookies Javillonar and Javelona battle for final Phoenix spot
Ariel Vanguardia has yet to make up his mind on the final Phoenix lineup. Jerome Ascano

ADD Phoenix to the teams taking on international competition in preparation for the upcoming PBA season.

Apart from GlobalPort, which is facing the Qatar national team in Doha on Friday, the Fuel Masters are set to test the mettle of new Asean Basketball League team Hong Kong on the same day, but on local soil, at the Upper Deck gym in Pasig.

Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia confirmed the development on Wednesday after their tune-up game against Rain or Shine, saying they are facing a side featuring Thai-American standout Tyler Lamb and two imports, including possibly 7-foot-3 NBA veteran Hasheem Thabeet.

“Yung problema namin on how to defend the big men, eh ito dalawang import eh, dalawang big man, so magandang tune-up sa amin para ma-practice namin yung rotation – without showing too much to the other teams,” Vanguardia said.

“Kasi syempre may tinatago ka pa dito na konti, ‘di ba? So dito, medyo pwede ka na hindi (magtago),” he added.

The Fuel Masters are finalizing their lineup ahead of the deadline on Thursday set by the league.

Veteran Marvin Hayes and rookie hopefuls Jeoffrey Javillonar and Paolo Javelona are vying for the last spot in the team's 15-man roster.

"Good thing I was able to use lahat pati yung mga rookies na tinitingnan namin like Javelona and Javillonar," Vanguardia said. "We’re still evaluating. They’re still under observation." 

“Kung ma-retain namin si Marvin, we just have Gelo (Alolino) and Matt (Wright) as our new faces," he added. 

The Fuel Masters’ defensive difficulties showed in their 111-107 loss to the Elasto Painters at Green Meadows.

“The main concern pa rin is our defense,” Vanguardia said after their first tune-up game of the offseason. “We gave up too many points. We’ve proven we can score, but we haven’t proven that we can’t defend. Beau (Belga) and (Jewel) Ponferrada killed us inside.”


“Kumbaga sa pantalon, medyo kailangan pang plantsahin,” he added of his team’s overall performance. “Very promising, but still a lot of work (to be done).” 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos