Fuel Masters seek share of lead


    TOPEX Robinson is new in his capacity as interim coach of Phoenix Super LPG in the PBA Philippine Cup but has been around long enough to know a blowout win could lead to a lot of pitfalls.

    “We don’t want to fall into the trap that just because we won we’re good,” Robinson, elevated to replace former chief Louie Alas just over a month ago, said last Tuesday, a day after the Fuel Masters trounced Meralco 116-98 in PBA Philippine Cup.

    “We could be better,” he stressed.

    The Fuel Masters hope to score a follow-up victory against NorthPort today at the Smart 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

    Another win will push Phoenix into the company of TNT, idle at the top with a 2-0 slate, and either Ginebra or Blackwater, which collide in the nightcap.

    Robinson has ample reason to be guardedly optimistic.

    NorthPort bowed to Blackwater 89-96 also last Monday, but coach Pido Jarencio is positive the Batang Pier would ultimately pull their acts together.

    “First game, walang tuneup-tuneup, may mga bagong players. Wala pa ‘yung chemistry, timing medyo wala pa. Kaya konting adjustment pa,” noted Jarencio.

    “More on mental na rin. Anxiety pumapasok na rin. Pero willingness to win nandoon. Kaya lang wala pang enough time para gawin iyon.”

    That’s exactly what Robinson is bracing for, the reason why he wants his players to remain on their toes despite the initial victory that has been the most lopsided so far in the bubble at Pampanga.

    “You don’t win a championship with your first game. Everybody could win in any given situation. There are a lot of things to be done. We did a lot of bad things,” said Robinson.

    “It’s just a testament that we’re gonna be on the same page. No guarantee of winning but we’ll always make sure we’re gonna compete. It’s gonna boil down to those little things that you might miss just because we’re celebrating a win,” he added.

    “What’s more important for us is how we’re going to get better, how to be the best version of ourselves and as a team.”

    How their teams continue to improve is also foremost on the mind of Ginebra coach Tim Cone and Blackwater counterpart Nash Racela.

    “So far, so good. Hopefully, we can move forward and continue to grow and get better as a team,” Cone said Cone after the Kings’ 102-92 victory over NLEX last Sunday.

    “Unless we get in better shape and get better timing back… I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement,” added Cone.

    Racela wants the same from his squad since he knows it is sure to have its hands full.

    “It will be a tough assignment, Ginebra,” said Racela. “Looking at (last Sunday’s) game parang hindi sila nawala.  You look at some players na parang out of shape, maybe 80 percent. Pero the way they move, ‘yung chemistry, hindi nawawala. So it will be tough for us.”