by Jonas Terrado
Games Friday (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Magnolia vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – NLEX vs San Miguel
Phoenix Pulse has managed to overcome the adversity surrounding the indefinite suspension of controversial star Calvin Abueva by moving in the middle of the pack of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Fuel Masters gained crucial victories last week over the NorthPort Batang Pier and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to move in sixth place with an even 4-4 record.
Coach Louie Alas’ team is actually on a good stretch, winning three of its last four after starting the conference at 1-3.
“We hope we can parlay these victories into three more wins to end the (eliminations),” said Matthew Wright, who averaged 30.0 points in both games.
Last month, Phoenix looked lost when PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial slapped an indefinite ban and a R70,000 fine on Abueva for a pair of misconducts that occurred in three days.
Abueva stirred controversy when he made a lewd gesture at Ray Parks Jr’s girlfriend Maika Rivera during Phoenix’s match against Blackwater before hitting TNT KaTropa import Terrence Jones with a clothesline tackle a couple of days later.
Alas also had to miss two games for his part in a separate altercation against TNT while new import Richard Howell struggled early after replacing the injured Rob Dozier.
Phoenix absorbed consecutive defeats to Meralco and Rain or Shine, prompting Wright to lament on their misfortunes.
“I feel like we’re just losing a little bit of our edge,” Wright said after a loss to Rain or Shine in early-June.