Phoenix takes on Rain or Shine for its next assignment in the PBA Philippine Cup, a team which coach Louie Alas considers as almost similar to the NLEX Road Warriors, who the Fuel Masters defeated in their last outing.
But Alas said that doesn't guarantee an instant victory for the surging Fuel Masters in their 4:30 p.m. encounter today with the Elasto Painters at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters are on a roll these days, having won back-to-back games after losing their season debut against defending champion San Miguel for a 2-1 record. A win over NLEX guarantees them of a share of second place with idle Magnolia.
Rain or Shine's fortunes is the reverse of Phoenix.
After a rousing start to their campaign with a big win over title contender TnT Katropa, the Elasto Painters lost their next two matches against Blackwater and Globalport to leave them in a four-way logjam with Globalport, TnT, and Meralco at eighth to 11th places.
The sudden turnaround of its fortunes prompted Rain or Shine resident big man Beau Belga to say there are no longer easy games in the league.
Meanwhile, coach Leo Isaac and his troop get another good test as they face the TnT Katropa Texters tonight.
The Elite are inspired by back-to-back wins over champion teams Rain or Shine and Barangay Ginebra as they tangle with the Texters at 7 p.m., with a shot at a tie at second place with the Magnolia Hotshots at 3-1.
The Texters, on the other hand, are smarting from a 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen in their Petron Blaze road tussle in Iloilo on Saturday.
With the return of Mac Belo and Poy Erram, their recruitment of Allein Malicsi, Roi Sumang, and Mike Digregorio plus the arrival of Toto Jose, the Elite has improved, showing indication they can now compete with the big boys.
“They are truly one of the up and coming teams in the league. They are building their team the right way," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.
TnT coach Nash Racela himself is wary of the Elite, noting Blackwater's big improvement.
While almost all the teams beefed up their lineup, the Texters, on the other hand, lost some offensive punch from their previous all-Filipino lineup on the exit of Ranidel de Ocampo and Larry Fonacier.
The Texters are off to a struggling start in the tourney, dropping games against the Elasto Painters and the Beermen, and winning just once against the Alaska Milk Aces.*pba.com
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