TNT KaTropa’s Jason Castro (left) eludes Star’s Ian Sangalang to score on a drive during their PBA Philippine Cup clash at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Sunday. The Hotshots won, 88-77.
Texters, Fuel Masters try to rebound in crucial tiffs
(The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - TNT KaTropa and Phoenix Petroleum face back-to-the-wall Mahindra and NLEX, respectively, with the Texters and the Fuel Masters out to bounce back from setbacks and stay close with the frontrunners in the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round at the Cuneta Astrodome tonight.

The Texters and the Floodbuster clash at 4:15 p.m. then the Fuel Masters and the Road Warriors collide at 7 p.m. in the crucial phase of the eliminations that will be played either at the Cuneta Astrodome or at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

In losing their last games, the Texters and the Fuel Masters now jockey for position in the middle of the team standings along with the Barangay Ginebra Kings, the Alaska Milk Aces and the Star Hotshots from fifth to ninth places at 4-4.

The Road Warriors, on the other hand, are on the brink of ouster at 2-6 while the Floodbuster (2-5) hope to wage a bid following back-to-back wins over the Blackwater Elite and the Meralco Bolts.

The Texters have actually dropped their last two games against the NLEX Road Warriors (98-110) and the Star Hotshots (77-88) while the Fuel Masters bowed to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 82-97, the last time out.

“There’s still a lot of things that we need to correct up to this point. My pitch every time is for them to fight the whole 48 minutes.

We can’t have an on-and-off switch,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.

“Our mindset is to still get as many wins as possible. We’ll try to win every game and wherever we end up, we just have to prepare for the next battle. If it gives us best-of-three or a twice-to-beat disadvantage, we just have to take it,” Racela said.

For his part, Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia urged his backcourt crew in particular to be consistent in their game.

“We’re a small team. We have to draw support from our guards and wingmen because that’s our strength,” said Vanguardia, ruing the poor outing of Simon Enciso, Gelo Alolino and Cyrus Baguio in their last game.

But Vanguardia hopes his wards will bounce back as they did in their two previous losses.

“We still have a chance. If we are to move to the next level, we need to win. We need to get two of our last three games, and we’re taking it one game at a time,” said Vanguardia.

And they could well be in for another tough outing as they play an NLEX squad that will be fighting for survival.

The Fuel Masters have been on a roller-coaster ride, winning over San Miguel Beer, Mahindra, Meralco and GlobalPort and losing to Blackwater, Star, TNT and ROS.

At 2-6, the Road Warriors have a lot of catching up to do if they’re to claim a quarters spot.

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