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Fuel Masters secure another win to strengthen position for difficult stretch ahead

For a team far from being considered as a traditional heavyweight, Phoenix is in its best start in an import-flavored conference. Still, coach Jamike Jarin feels they have no reason to feel ecstatic.

“There’s no easy game in the PBA,” said coach Jamike Jarin as the Fuel Masters continued to beat the teams they feel they are penciled to have the buffer they need to make the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs following Wednesday’s 103-84 conquest of the Terrafirma Dyip at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With four wins in five outings, Phoenix is within reach of a top eight finish. It plays winless Converge on Saturday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City before entering the grueling part of its elimination round schedule.

That stretch includes facing Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, Meralco and TNT, teams that have consistently made the semifinals in recent conferences.

The Fuel Masters’ lone defeat came against the unbeaten Magnolia Hotshots last Nov. 12.

“I’m not familiar with the teams just yet,” admitted import Johnathan Williams, who played splendidly in giving Phoenix another win. “But whether it’s the best team or the worst team, we just have to come out and play, and give our all.”

Phoenix, assured of solo second by the end of the midweek twinbill, hopes for a more dominant display from Williams moving forward. He finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds.

Terrafirma was handed a second straight defeat despite the return of import Thomas de Thaey and Juami Tiongson. The Dyip fell to 2-3.

Commissioner Willie Marcial, meanwhile, slapped NorthPort team manager Pido Jarencio a P20,000 fine and gave him a stern warning after hurling threatening remarks at NLEX import Thomas Robinson, who has since been replaced.