Whatever mettle Phoenix may have sure would be severely tested starting Friday.
The Fuelmasters take on eliminated GlobalPort with the former seeking one of two wins they hope would be enough to propel them to the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Phoenix’s task does not end with the Batang Pier for coach Koy Banal’s squad also needs to prevail against San Miguel Beer on Sunday to force at least a tie for a slot among the top eight advancing to the quarterfinals.
“There’s pressure, but I like our situation,” said Banal on the eve of the match.
“This will only prepare us to the next level,” added Banal. “This is the kind of situation where boys will become men and the veterans will be veterans.”
The Fuelmasters’ situation would not have been as dire had they not lost a 104-109 decision to Rain or Shine last Friday, but Banal is not one to dwell too much in the past and instead prefers to look forward.
The game means little for GlobalPort except it should stop a season-worst seven-game losing spell while dragging Phoenix down with it.
The Batang Pier could live out the spoiler’s role to the hilt should Shawn Taggart, averaging 31.75 points, 14 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in the four games he has played, get the vital support from Terrence Romeo, Keith Jensen, Joseph Yeo, Jay Washington and Jeric Fortuna.
Such a concern only adds to the heap already on Banal’s plate. “I can’t hide to the team the fact that if we lose against GlobalPort we’re done,” he said.
“We have to take this game as if our job is on the line. We want to survive another day. The reminder is to give everything we got. We cannot afford to save something for tomorrow for tomorrow might not come.”
The key for Phoenix is to have the likes of RR Garcia, JC Intal, Willy Wilson and Mac Baracael providing Kevinn Pinkney with the much-needed support.