Phoenix played with fire and got burned.
Fuel Masters head coach Ariel Vanguardia admitted that going mano a mano with a deep Rain or Shine squad cost itself the game, losing the duel, 97-82, on Sunday.
“We gambled on them taking threes. The bad thing is they made them,” he said.
Known to prosper in free-flowing games, the Fuel Masters didn’t have enough firepower to match their foes as they only shot 5-of-24 from threes against the Elasto Painters’ whopping 16-of-47 conversion.
Vanguardia said losses like this must serve as a wake up call for his backcourt as it must hold itself on the same level of the opposition, especially against a guard rotation as highly-touted as that of Rain or Shine.
“We will face teams like this that are really deeper than us. That’s why we need to be firing in all cylinders too,” he said. “Aside from Matt (Wright), my backcourt play was off. Simon (Enciso) was awful today, Gelo (Alolino) was on-and-off, and it’s not the usual game ofCyrus (Baguio). We can’t afford to have that. Simon, (Mark) Borboran, JC (Intal), and Cyrus have to step up so we can match teams as loaded as Rain or Shine is.”
Wright may have had 26 points in the game, but he shot 10-of-29.
Aside from that, the Fuel Masters were just off the mark, with Enciso going 1-of-11, Baguio shooting 3-of-11, Intal on a 5-of-14 clip, and Borboran going 2-of-9 from the field.
“It’s a given that we’re a small team. We have to draw contributions from our guards and wings because that’s our strength,” the coach said.
Collectively, Phoenix shot 32 percent from the field, with Vanguardia most disappointed with his team’s 27-of-77 shooting from two points.
“We missed 50 shots in the two-points. We missed a lot of easy shots. Against teams like this, you can’t afford to miss that much because they’ll make you pay,” he said.
With three games remaining in the Fuel Masters’ schedule, Vanguardia is hopeful that the team can nab at least two wins to better their chances of making it to the playoffs.
“We still have the chance. We have a 10-day break before we play our next game against NLEX. That will be our championship game. If we are to move to the next level, that’s the game we need to win,” he said as Phoenix currently stands at fifth place together with Blackwater carrying a 4-4 slate.
“We cannot be tied because we have the inferior quotient against Star and Blackwater. We need to get two of those last three games so we’re taking it one game at a time.”