GIVEN less than two weeks to prepare on court, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters are trying everything they can to make the most of it before they plunge back into Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) action beginning next week.
Speaking on The Chasedown program on Saturday, Phoenix interim coach Topex Robinson said they are excited to get back to what they are doing, but admitted it entails a lot of work given the limited time they are afforded, more so for a team like theirs which is undergoing a transition process.
The Fuel Masters along with the other 11 PBA teams, are now at Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga, where they will be competing in the resumption of the suspended Philippine Cup beginning Oct. 11 held under a “bubble” setup.
They will be holed up in Clark for two months to finish at least a conference in the league’s coronavirus pandemic-hit year.
Mr. Robinson, who took over from erstwhile Phoenix coach Louie Alas during the pandemic-forced break, shared that since entering the bubble they have been very busy with practices, looking to establish collective rhythm.
“We’ve been doing practices and slowly, but surely we’re getting there. We haven’t played for a while, so everybody is adjusting,” said Mr. Robinson.
The interim Phoenix coach went on to say that the team is pretty much complete but they are also awaiting word if star forward Calvin Abueva could play with them in the bubble.
Mr. Abueva was suspended by the PBA in July last year for conduct unbecoming of a professional and actions detrimental to the league.
His PBA return gained some headway last week when the Games and Amusements Board signified its intent to reinstate his license to play pending completion of some requirements.
The development opened the window for Mr. Abueva to join the team in bubble practices, which Mr. Robinson said is a big step for them as a team.
“Calvin has been practicing with us, so it’s a big boost since he has not with us for quite a while. If he gets to play, he will be a big help. What you see on court with him, that’s how he is in practice. He brings energy to the team. The intangibles he brings are something we really miss,” the Phoenix coach said.
“But regardless if he gets to play or not, we will come out competing. Our goal in the bubble is to be the best versions of ourselves,” he added.
As to the league bubble that is about to start, Mr. Robinson said it is going to be interesting, especially since all the teams are starting with limited time of preparation because of the break caused by the pandemic.
“All of us are given at least 10 days of preparation. So you cannot really tell who has the advantage at this time and it all depends on how you will use those days of preparation,” he said.
Mr. Robinson, however, said that teams which have established systems should have an easier time.
“So you have San Miguel, Ginebra, NLEX, and others which are just about continuity. I think it’s only us and Blackwater which are still adjusting because of the changes we had,” he said.
But despite that, Mr. Robinson said they will be out to compete throughout the bubble and establish a system and culture that works.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us, but we will be investing in time and effort and take it a step at a time.” — Michael Angelo S. Murillo