Phoenix coach Alas: Napoles, Dennison can help define Fuel Masters' identity
MANILA, Philippines – Like a phoenix rising from the ashes. We know the cliché, but in the case of the Phoenix Fuel Masters, this is possibly the year where they take that next step.
Phoenix finished last season’s Philippine Cup with a 5-6 record, a 4-7 card in the Commissioner’s Cup, and an 8-3 slate in the Governors’ Cup — good for second in the elimination round — before getting ousted despite a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals by the Meralco Bolts.
Entering his second season at the helm, veteran coach Louie Alas thinks that this is when his team begins to make strides.
“We need to define our team identity though I stressed it last year,” pointed out Alas. “We were very inconsistent with our defense. Parang day and night. We need to define our defensive identity and make it our barometer in winning.”
The Fuel Masters’ coach hopes that the new additions will help define that and based on what they have done and how they look, they could be just what the doctor ordered for Phoenix.
Regarding his rookies, Alas is high on Jorey Napoles and Ron Dennison, who were both signed to one-year deals by the ballclub.
“Jorey stands 6’4” and has a wingspan of 6’8”. Now, this kid out of TIP (Technological Institute of the Philippines) can play. The only problem is his position is stacked and loaded. We have Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins, and at times when we will play him there — Alex Mallari. Patience will be required of Napoles,” Alas added.
The 5’11” Ron Dennison, on the other hand, reminds Alas of Ping Exciminiano when he was a part of the Alaska Aces. Like Exciminiano, who also was a tough defensive stalwart for Far Eastern University in the UAAP, Dennison will be a stopper.
“Ron is a tough hombre,” said Alas. “He’s fearless.”
When Dennison starred for FEU (helping them win a championship in 2015), he took on the opposing team’s top point guard or scoring swingman such as UP’s Paul Desiderio, Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena, or even Adamson’s Jerrick Ahanmisi.
“However, just the same, he (Dennison) has to earn his spot in the substitution pattern,” cautioned Alas.
Also, joining the team are veterans Alex Mallari and power forward Dave Marcelo, who arrived in a trade with NLEX.
The Fuel Masters also have several players who have represented the country in recent years. Aside from Matthew Wright — arguably one of the brightest talents in the PBA today — and Abueva, there is JC Intal, RJ Jazul and Rey Guevarra, who were all with the Gilas program at one point. Both Jazul and Guevarra played for Alas when he was coaching Letran in the NCAA.