PHOENIX Petroleum aims to translate its success in the local oil industry into the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as the Davao-based company makes its debut in the Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday against NLEX.
Finally accepted as the league’s newest franchise after five years of trying, the Fuel Masters are taking it one step at a time, but are ultimately setting their sights on a championship in Asia’s first professional league.
“Just like how we’ve built the Phoenix organization from a small enterprise into the number one independent oil company today, we will also build the Phoenix Fuel Masters into a competitive and winning team,” Phoenix president and CEO Dennis Uy said when the franchise was officially launched on Wednesday.
“This may take time as building any championship team does, but we are ready and committed to do our best for the team, our supporters, and to PBA fans,” he added.
Fuel Masters coach Koy Banal echoed his boss’s sentiment, tempering expectations on the team that brought in Nigerian journeyman Kenny Adeleke as its import for the midseason tournament.
“The goal is just to be in the middle of the pack, then we’ll take it from there,” Banal said.
“But we’ll go out there and just fight until the end,” the veteran mentor added, once again drawing strength from a rag-tag local bunch acquired from the Barako Bull franchise led by Willie Wilson, JC Intal, RR Garcia, and Mick Pennisi. “We’ll just give it all.”
League commissioner Chito Narvasa welcomed Phoenix, which, he believes, is a few pieces away from joining the league’s elite.
“They’ve been very patient and I think the reward is going to be reaped very shortly,” he said. “It’s different when you start from scratch. But now, you’ve acquired a very competitive team.”
“They’re two or three big men away from becoming one of the best teams in the PBA,” he added. “So good luck, have fun, and show us what you got.”