PBA Preview: Coaching change, retooled roster fuel Phoenix drive to reach higher ground
Under new direction with coach Louie Alas, the Fuel Masters are driven to reach greater heights. Warren Salvacion

Phoenix Fuel Masters

Roster: Gelo Alolino, JC Intal, Joseph Eriobu, Jeff Chan, Marvin Hayes, Doug Kramer, Karl Dehesa, RJ Jazul, Willy Wilson, Matthew Wright

Key additions: LA Revilla, Jason Perkins, Justin Chua, Jam Cortez, Rey Guevarra, Jaypee Mendoza

Significant losses: Dylan Ababou, Chico Lanete

NEW Phoenix coach Louie Alas struggled more than his players did in the transition period for the Fuel Masters during the offseason.

Things didn't go smoothly as far as the shift to head coaching is concerned for Alas, who was used to playing second fiddle to Alaska chief tacticians Luigi Trillo and Alex Compton for the last six years.

"First few days ko nags-struggle talaga ko. May mga sleepless nights nga kasi I'm very excited," said Alas, who took over the job from Ariel Vanguardia more than a month ago. 

"Almost six years akong assistant coach. Akala ko yung transition was easy, hindi pala, so I tried to study kung paano ko ita-transform sarili ko."

It didn't take long, though, for the former Mobiline coach to regain his bearings. The team, which has been putting premium on defense, followed suit.

After a month, the defensive-minded, high-octane team Alas has been trying to build is starting to take shape.


The 2-1 finish in the PBA preseason tournament against Rain or Shine, NLEX, and Alaska was a good indication of how far the team has progressed since Day 1 of training camp.

"I can see some good things sa kanila kasi first time ang sarap nila i-coach kasi kahit napapagod sumusunod," he said.

"Kaya ako na yung nagbaback off e, pag nakita kong pagod ka at gusto kong magturo, kina-cut ko na yung practice."

Now after acquiring additional firepower in LA Revilla, Justin Chua, and Jason Perkins, among others, in their arsenal, Alas is optimistic the team can at least barge into the upper bracket in the All-Filipino Cup.

"I have no choice, kailangan maniwala ako (na kaya namin yun). Kasi kung di ako maniniwala, wala na mangyayari. I'm very positive," he said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros