In an intense race for seeding in the playoff race, every game matters. A win can catapult your chances at better seeding, while a loss can have a great effect when it comes to a team’s postseason dreams.
Phoenix and NLEX are two teams that entered their game with different stories, but same goals. The Fuel Masters had the potential to be a great team, but their inconsistency at the defensive end was maddening to watch. For the case of the Road Warriors, the team was still adjusting to the new system Coach Yeng Guiao had in place for them, but a spot in the playoffs was still in play.
In this game, the Fuel Masters’ good side showed up, while the struggles of the Road Warriors were clear as day.
Even though both teams entered the game neck and neck in terms of Net Rating, Phoenix simply looked like a team that was on a different class compared to the Road Warriors. It wasn’t just the discipline of following the system which was evident, but the sheer talent disparity proved to be too much for NLEX.
Simon Enciso ended the game with 21 points, but it was Matthew Wright who did everything for the Fuel Masters. He nearly ended the game with a triple double, scoring 12 points, grabbing 12 caroms and dishing the ball 9 times (nevermind the 9 turnovers). People expected Wright to be a reliable shooter for the Fuel Masters, but his all around play is a welcome addition to the Phoenix attack. With other guys like Enciso and Cyrus Baguio, Phoenix is filled with weapons who can contribute at any given minute. This kind of depth may make the difference between a first round exit and a deep playoff run for the Fuel Masters.
NLEX, on the other hand, has been having a difficult time adjusting to Coach Yeng Guiao’s system. They’ve managed to play at a very fast pace (101.9, tied for 1st in the league), but their offense just hasn’t clicked (89. 0, last in the league). A high octane offense is a key component of CYG’s teams, so NLEX has to figure out how to get baskets in a fast paced setting. They may likely not make it to the playoffs, but figuring out Yeng Guiao’s system may be best for them in the long run.