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Also-ran Phoenix looks forward to next conference with James White as import.

Phoenix may have failed to make the quarterfinals after losing to TNT in a playoff for the last quarterfinals slot, but coach Louie Alas believes it was the Fuel Masters previous games that cost them their ticket to the next round.

'We lost our campaign when we lost to Meralco and Blackwater,' Alas said.

Carrying an even 4-4 slate, the Fuel Masters blew their chances to advance outright in the quarterfinals as it fell to cellar-dwelling teams like the Bolts and the Elite in their final three games.

That complicated their chances to advance at 5-6 that eventually led to elimination following a 118-87 rout at the hands of TNT on Sunday.

It didn't help that Alas' already shallow rotation took a hit after injuries to LA Revilla (wrist) and Justin Chua (appendix), making things worse for Phoenix.

'We were shorthanded because we lost two guys who are part of our rotation. It's not that I'm using that as an alibi, but when we're facing against the stronger teams, we have no chance,' he said.

With all of those factors accounted for, Alas is hopeful that returning reinforcement James White will help in addressing some of the Fuel Masters' deficiencies on both ends of the floor.

'I think he's a perfect fit for us because he's a rim protector. He's not an explosive scorer, but he's a good defender,' he said of White, who last saw action for Kia last season.

But Alas knows that the burden shouldn't rest on the import's shoulders alone as he plans a tougher offseason for his locals.

'We'll only have a two-week break. We have no right to take a long vacation because we're not as strong as the other teams,' he said. 'We need to have a longer time and a tougher grind on our practices.'

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 4, 2018
Words:383
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