Players-only meeting, playoff atmosphere in practice, spell success for Phoenix
Willie Wilson was efficient as always for Phoenix. Jerome Ascano

THE PBA Commissioners Cup is just halfway through its elimination phase, but Phoenix deemed it best to start playing with a sense of urgency against Mahindra on Wednesday night.

Willie Wilson admitted the Fuel Masters got alarmed by their skid in the mid-season tournament that everything was all-business during the team practice on the eve of their game against the Enforcers.

“We had a playoff atmosphere (in practice). We can’t fall behind the standings, so we have to try and keep pace with the (other) teams,” he said.

Wilson typified the Fuel Masters resurgence by coming through with a huge double-double in the team’s 114-99 rout of the Enforcers that put a stop to its three-game losing streak.

The undersized forward out of De La Salle had 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, with 10 rebounds, and five assists in 39 minutes of play as he helped Phoenix improve to 2-3 and climb back to the middle half of the standings.

[See Phoenix posts wire-to-wire win over Mahindra to end three-game slide]

Wilson disclosed the Fuel Masters had a players’ meeting to thresh out whatever was bugging the team the last three games.

“We had a small meeting, but we’re just basically affirming our belief in the system and with one another,” he said.

The result was obvious. Import Kevin Pinkney and RR Garcia led the way with 23 and 22 points, respectively. JC Intal added 16 and Mick Pennisi with 10, all in the first half when the Fuel Masters began to pull away from the Enforcers.

“We have a balance approach to this game and equal opportunity system. Whoever is hot, he’s the guy we go to,” added the veteran big man.

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