Hotshots, Fuel Masters start semis duel

The stage is set for an electrifying showdown as Magnolia and Phoenix Super LPG face off in the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Fueled by their unexpected success this season, the underdog Fuel Masters have kept everyone on their toes and are ready to take on any challenge. But will Magnolia be the team to shatter their dreams?

With a stunning victory over Meralco Bolts in their quarterfinal match, the Fuel Masters have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with. And now, they’re gearing up for an intense battle against top-seeded Hotshots in a best-of-five series.

“The fairy tale continues,” said Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin.

“We’re not supposed to be here. At the start of the conference nobody predicted we’d be in the top four,” added Jarin. “But we’re not just happy to make it to the semifinals. We will continue to play harder and, hopefully, things fall our way and we’ll win some games.”

But Magnolia is not one to back down easily. After breezing past TNT Tropang Giga in the previous round, coach Chito Victolero and his team have had ample time to prepare for what they expect to be a grueling matchup.

However, Victolero knows that the odds are not entirely in their favor. With Phoenix’s young roster having a shorter recovery period and standout import Johnathan Williams leading the charge, the Hotshots know they’ll need all hands on deck.

“They have a very, very good import. Ang kailangan naming gawin, how we can contain ‘yung domination ng import niya. I think sobrang nag-improve yung import niya since nakalaban naming sila sa elimination,” said Victolero.

“We need to contain also ‘yung activity level, contributions, ng mga young guys niya, the likes of Kenneth Tuffin, (Tyler) Tio and (Javee) Mocon. Also, ‘yung (Jason) Perkins na one of our biggest matchup problems,” added Victolero.

“I think we have the material para sa proper matchups naman. ‘Yung import lang talaga main problem. Hindi naman namin mai-stop, ma-contain lang.”

Despite faltering against Magnolia earlier in the season, Victolero is quick to shrug off that defeat and focus on their crucial players such as Tyler Bey, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Jio Jalalon who are more than ready to give it their all on court.

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