Phoenix rides a “fairytale” run into its PBA semi-final matchup with Magnolia, the top team

Jan 23, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – Phoenix will face Magnolia in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, putting them in a familiar but difficult situation as the underdog against a strong foe. This story of the underdog fighter taking on a titan is similar to famous tales like Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali or David versus Goliath.

Following Sunday’s spirited 88-84 victory over Meralco at the Mall of Asia Arena, Phoenix’s head coach Jamike Jarin was eager to shift the focus back to his group. In a moment of humility, Jarin said, “I don’t get the credit. All of them deserve praise. Particularly this guy on the other side of me, Jason Perkins, we all worked extremely hard. They make me appear wonderful. The story keeps getting better.”

Phoenix is aware of the struggle that lies ahead as they get ready to play Magnolia. Jarin’s focus on cooperation and group effort highlights the essence of the underdog, who is prepared to overcome the obstacles and write an exciting story during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals.

Jarin’s recognition of Magnolia’s abilities is spot on. Preseason dominance by the Hotshots, who were considered favorites early on, culminated in an 11-game PBA on Tour whitewash. Magnolia displayed its strong squad, led by players like Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca, and James Laput.

Head coach Chito Victolero strengthened the Hotshots’ chances of winning the Commissioner’s Cup by trading for Tyler Bey in a calculated move. With seven straight wins, Magnolia maintained a franchise-best start thanks in part to this move. The difficulty is clear as Phoenix gets ready to take on this formidable opponent in the quarterfinals, but the PBA Commissioner’s Cup narrative is still shaped by the spirit of competition and the unpredictable nature of the underdog narrative.

With a 9 to 2 record at the completion of the elimination round, Magnolia played like an automated machine and topped the rankings.

However, while the Hotshots’ ascent to the top seed was predicted, the newly formed Fuel Masters unexpectedly discovered themselves positioned in the upper echelons.

We have no business being here. At the beginning of the conference, nobody anticipated that we would place among the Top Four. Jarin stated, “We’re just pleased to be in the semifinals. We’ll keep playing harder and maybe things work out so we can win some games.

Even though they have a strong team and coach Chito, who is an excellent leader, they are under pressure. We’ll prepare for them by resting our bodies and watching the movie as soon as I leave MOA. We’ll give them our all.

Four nights after losing to the Bolts in triple overtime, Phoenix made a strong comeback thanks to imports Jason Perkins and Jonathan Williams, who teamed for 40 points plus 29 rebounds.

Though Perkins believes Jarin should get a lot of the credit for the team’s success, the two have been very impressive for the Fuel Masters.

We simply are adhering to coach Jamike’s guidance. We’re a young team, and we get emotional easily, as he constantly says. Even at my age, I make mistakes and get upset easily, but instructor Jamike assists us to straighten things out,” Perkins remarked. 

“He would most certainly win the Basketball Coach Player of the Year honor if the PBA had one. He works so hard, and I hope he’s acknowledged,” he continued.

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