ARIEL Vanguardia welcomed the timely return to the Phoenix lineup of top gunner JC Intal and banger Willie Wilson as the Fuel Masters get some much-needed firepower when they face a team whom he considers as having the ‘most explosive backcourt’ in the PBA.
The Fuel Masters meet GlobalPort Batang Pier, featuring Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle, in the final play date of the Philippine Cup for 2016 on Wednesday at the Astrodome.
The team is coming off a rousing 94-91 come-from-behind win against Meralco last week, which it managed to pull off despite the absence of Intal and Wilson.
Intal was then nursing a bruised rib, while Wilson had a hurting arm.
The high-flying Intal leads the Fuel Masters in scoring with a 16.4 average per game (10th in the league), while Wilson is the team’s top rebounder with a 9.0 average (4th overall).
Getting the two back in time for the 4:15 p.m. game at the Astrodome is certainly a welcome treat for Phoenix, which is looking to improve its even 3-3 record entering the New Year.
“We are glad to have them (JC and Willie) back, but Willie and JC should be more motivated by the energy that the bench provided in the last game,” said Vanguardia, who got big games from Mark Borboran and Matthew Wright coming off the bench against the Bolts.
Borboran had 17 points and eight rebounds, while Wright had his best game in his young pro career with 22 points and eight rebounds.
“But I expect them to come out fresh and hungrier,” added the Phoenix coach.
GlobalPort is coming off a loss against Blackwater, 99-91, in a game which saw Pringle ejected in the third quarter for incurring a second flagrant foul. It was the first time he was thrown out of a match, according to the Batang Pier guard.
In Pringle’s absence, Blackwater’s defense collapsed on Romeo, who despite coming away with a near triple-double, was held to a miserable 6-of-21 shooting from the field, including 2-of-8 from three-point range. The prolific shooting guard out of Far Eastern University finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists.
Still, Vanguardia remains wary about the Romeo-Pringle backcourt tandem.
“We need everyone to step up and contribute, especially on both ends, and try to limit their (Pringle and Romeo) output,” said the Phoenix mentor.