Rising steadily

Calvin Abueva. PBA IMAGES

ANTIPOLO—Louie Alas refuses to dwell in Phoenix Pulse’s early PBA Philippine Cup success.

That’s because Alas knows what he’s talking about.
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“It’s not the way you start. We have to sustain this,” Alas said after his Fuel Masters ran roughshod over Blackwater, 114-95, at Ynares Center here, to stay in the elimination round lead and remain the only unbeaten team in the lot.

The Fuel Masters opened up a 19-point lead after the first quarter and never looked back, fattening the gap to as large as 37 on the way to rising to 4-0 and dealing the Elite their third loss in four games.FEATURED STORIES
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“We didn’t expect this outcome; we were actually worried coming into this game,” he said as the smile couldn’t be wiped off his face because of another reason that took place earlier on Friday.

“We played flawless defense [in the game], although we had some lapses [in the fourth period],” said Alas, who became a grandfather for the first time to baby girl Kamy.

Calvin Abueva came off the bench to shoot 22 points, grab 14 rebounds and block two shots that pumped up the Fuel Masters no end as a total of seven players finished in twin digits in scoring for Alas.

Painters triumph

In the second game, James Yap came off the bench to score 21 points while Javee Mocon added a career-high 18 points and 16 rebounds as Rain or Shine turned back San Miguel Beer, 108-98, and bounce back from its first loss in the conference.

The Elasto Painters used a huge second quarter to gain control before fending off several uprisings by the Beermen and get back on track losing to Blackwater, 111-99.

The Elite were so off that had it not been for a momentary loss of focus on the part of the Fuel Masters, they would have been blown off the floor beyond recognition.
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Mike DiGregorio, who scored 27 points in the Elite’s 111-99 upset of Rain or Shine just a couple of nights back, was held to five points on 1-for-10 shooting from the floor.

Phoenix also dished out 29 assists, an eye-popping number considering that the Fuel Masters were in the tail-end of that department in the conference.

Alas will have a week to plot his game plan for the Fuel Masters’ next outing, which will be against NLEX, as his charges brace for a rough stretch where they will clash with the tournament heavyweights.

“We’re looking for five straight [wins],” he declared. “But we have to address our bad tendencies when we get big leads.”

Alas has legitimate reason to be guardedly optimistic about his team’s scorching start.

Phoenix also started out hot in the last Governors’ Cup but lost steam when it mattered, losing a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals to Meralco.

And that’s what this team would want to erase here.

Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra looks to snap a two-game slide when it slugs it out with Columbian in the main game of an interesting Petron Saturday Special double-header also at the Antipolo venue.

Tip-off is at 6:45 p.m.

The Road Warriors, on the other hand, shoot for their first winning streak when they battle sister team Meralco at 4:30 p.m.

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