There’s something about Phoenix Super LPG that makes it a breeding ground of young stars.
Last season, despite the absence of a first-round draft pick in the Rookie Draft, the Fuel Masters were still able to find gems in the second round after picking guards Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano. Tio and Serrano eventually blossomed into quality players who helped Phoenix reach the playoffs in two of the past three conferences.
But the Fuel Masters were not able to keep Serrano, who decided to bring his act to his hometown, Pampanga, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
This season, the Fuel Masters are going back to their old template of success, which is to continue building up through the Rookie Draft.
Phoenix head coach Jamike Jarin will have four quality rookies in his roster as he enters his first full season as mentor.
The Fuel Masters selected Ken Tuffin in the first round and Raffy Verano and Matthew Daves in the second and third rounds, respectively.
They also found former University of the Philippines star Ricci Rivero available in the second round so they didn’t hesitate to tap him.
“I told them ‘get Ricci, get Ricci.’ I was on vacation then but I didn’t let the opportunity pass without drafting Rivero,” Phoenix governor Atty. Raymond Zorilla said.
A proven winner in college, Rivero didn’t disappoint.
In their first game on Friday night, Tuffin and Rivero made their presence felt, combining for 31 points while providing hustle and energy to the Fuel Masters.
Having young guns like Tuffin and Rivero dazzling in their debuts had somehow spilled over to the rest of the team as the veterans wanted to prove themselves as well.
Jay Alejandro, who failed to showcase his talent in his previous team, finally got a much-needed break while Tio continued to lead by example following an impressive rookie season.
Now, as he enters his sophomore season, Tio wants to guide the newcomers similar to how veterans RR Garcia and RJ Jazul took care of him when he was still a rookie.
Phoenix is off to a blazing start, beating NLEX, 113-101, due to the impressive performance of its young guns.
True enough, the development continues for Phoenix as it wants to keep its reputation of serving as the breeding ground of the league’s next generation of superstars.