When one talks about the Phoenix Fuelmasters, basketball purists would definitely label the team as a squad built around Calvin Abueva. No question about that, ‘The Beast’ is the face of the Dennis Uy-owned franchise.
But there’s more about the Fuelmasters than Abueva.
I could understand the enthusiasm seeing the pride of Angeles City at work. We could only expect the excitement built from his family, his friends, his teammates and the fans.
But no one deserves it more than Abueva, whose return is a long overdue.
Sixteen months in suspension and it didn’t come as a surprise when he was like a Beast Unleashed on Monday night when he played his first official game. The numbers were simply products not just of excitement, but hard work and determination to help out his team in sustaining its impressive showing this conference.
His numbers won’t lie: 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to scream out his announcement on his return to the PBA.
Abueva is just a piece of the puzzle, but much of the credit should be given to Topex Robinson, the interim mentor, whose job security depends on making a good first impression as a head coach.
How challenging was it for him to take over in his first head coaching job in the big league?
Not much, except that he had to preside over the sensitive role weeks before the restart of the season after Phoenix gave Louie Alas the boot. But Robinson’s relationship with the players was deep to the point that players really wanted to play for him.
A system built on trust and care for one another. That’s Robinson’s mantra.
Suddenly, Phoenix has become more than just Abueva’s team. The Fuelmasters were pretty solid prior to notching their fourth win in six games against the luckless NLEX Road Warriors.
Among the victims of the Abueva-less squad were Magnolia, NorthPort and Meralco, all of which are considered as no pushovers in the league. Under Robinson, the team was able to bring the best out of Jason Perkins and Justin Chua, while getting the usual explosive games from Matthew Wright.
Now the team is at solo fourth spot, which put the Fuelmasters in a better position to launch their playoff aspirations.
With Abueva back in the line up, the sky is the limit for the Fuelmasters. They’re now in full tank and ready to go the extra mile. Anyone care for a joyride with the Phoenix Fuelmasters?