Fuel Masters hone game, mindset during break
PHOENIX hit one big bump in the PBA Philippine Cup and it is making full use of the league's two-week break to repair any damage.
That is why Fuel Masters coach Louie Alas welcomed the respite, saying they are using it to rest aching bodies and, at the same time, finetune their game for what should be a tougher grind ahead.
"Mixture ng pahinga, practices, review," said Alas adding his team has had only three days off since their 9498 overtime loss to Rain or Shine last Sunday.
"Kasi si Calvin (Abueva) may minor hamstring (injury), si Matt (Wright) elbow niya, si Jason (Perkins) shoulder," relayed Alas. "Plus, madami kaming viewing."
That loss to the Elasto Painters cut short the Fuel Masters' unbeaten start to the season at five games and denied them of at least a playoff slot for a quarterfinals seat.
Getting his charges fit and ready is a must for Alas since Phoenix takes on NorthPort when the league resumes on Feb. 27 and then plays Alaska two days later.
"Mas kailangan ko 'yung healthy bodies dahil nga sa back-to-back namin," said Alas.
"Very crucial iyung next two games naming 'yun."
That explains why Alas wanted everybody present in their practices that resume Monday. "Lalo na itong week na ito," he stated.
"Sabi ko nga sa kanila, 'Kahit me sakit kayo, basta nandito lang kayo para kahit i-walkthrough ko na lang practice, basta physical presence 'yung kailangan ko para di ko na kailangang ulitin iyung ituturo ko from Day 1.
"Healthy naman kami. Kaya lang, this will be the best time na palakasin iyung kailangang palakasin sa katawan namin."
And their collective mindset.
Bolstering his side's mental toughness is Alas' emphasis since he feels it deserted them in that game against Rain or Shine.
"Me chance kaming manalo, pero nu'ng overtime, tatlong possessions na nag-breakdown kami defensively," offered Alas.
"Sabi ko nga sa kanila sa post-game, 'Kung gusto nating maka-catch up sa mga heavyweights, wala tayong margin for error, defensively, in the endgame.'
"Talagang glaring. First three possessions ng overtime okay pa. Shoot sila, shoot kami. Pero pang fourth, fifth, seventh possessions saka nagbe-breakdown kami. Iyung mga last four seconds na lang sa shot clock.
"Inaano ko ngang factor, 'Pagod na ba kami?' Pero one of the best conditioned teams itong team ko, e. Or, sabi ko, hindi naman inexperience kundi yung chemistry pag malalakas ang kalaban baka lumalabas yung weakness namin at iyun ang gusto kong i-work out ."
The only one absent in the Fuel Masters' recent practice sessions is Alex Mallari, who flew to the US last Valentine's Day. But he is expected to return and re-join the team Tuesday. (NC)