Meralco will be difficult to beat in the playoffs, Phoenix cautioned

Jan 22, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – The Phoenix Fuel Masters are in a position of both accomplishment and increased challenge in the unpredictable world of PBA basketball as they advance to the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals. In addition to securing an unexpected spot in the playoffs, their victory over Meralco in the elimination round raised the stakes because they will be playing a more difficult opponent.

Phoenix knows that, even with a two-game lead, complacency can be their greatest enemy. Coach Jamike Jarin exhorts his side to play the game with the same fervor as if it were a single-elimination scenario, acknowledging the Meralco Bolts’ seasoned ability.

With a remarkable 8 to 3 win-loss record going into the quarterfinals, the Bolts are no strangers to conquering obstacles. Jarin notes Meralco’s tenacity and emphasizes that, although down by two games, they are still very capable of winning the series.

Not only did Phoenix secure a twice-to-beat edge, but they also attracted attention as possible behemoth killers. But the true test is still to come, and Jarin wants to make sure his team has a strong feeling of urgency and focus. The quarterfinals provide them a stage to demonstrate their abilities as well as their ability to continuously outperform and move forward in the competition.

It’s possible that the coaching staff is stressing the value of every game in an effort to discourage any sense of entitlement that would result from their favorable position. In the fast-paced world of professional basketball, Phoenix is aware that one loss has the potential to wipe out all of their hard-earned advantages.

However, Meralco views this quarter-final encounter as a chance for improvement and atonement. The group is a tough opponent because of their experience and tenacity, and Jarin’s cautious strategy shows how much he respects Meralco’s strengths.

The Fuel Masters are definitely analyzing Meralco’s style of play, planning how to neutralize the Bolts’ advantages, and honing their own offensive and defensive tactics as they get ready for the quarterfinal matchup. Whether Phoenix can turn their surprising success in the elimination round into a more consistent playoff victory will depend on every possession, every choice they make on the floor, and how well they execute their game plan.

For Phoenix, the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals are much more than just a string of basketball games; they’re a crucial examination of their resiliency, flexibility, and capacity to handle the demands of intense competition. Their progress from the elimination phase to the quarterfinals is evidence of their ability, but how they handle the impending matches against a seasoned and focused Meralco team will reveal their true character.

Jarin’s conviction is supported by Meralco’s prior achievements. The Bolts have reached the semifinals the past two times they have been ranked No. 5, most notably in the 2020 Philippine Cup, when they defeated San Miguel’s twice-to-beat advantage to win the series.

The Fuel Masters’ import, Jonathan Williams, reminded them as much in the dugout after their 116 to 96 loss to TNT to close up the eliminations, indicating that things will become harder down the road. 

Jarin also advised his guys to concentrate on the lessons that the game taught them rather than dwelling on the defeat to TNT.

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