All eyes will be on Phoenix wingman Calvin Abueva as he faces his former team Alaska in an early collision between two unbeaten squads in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-2 Abueva has been on a tear in his first two games for the Fuel Masters, averaging 12.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
Phoenix opened the season-ending conference with a 113-107 win over Columbian, before throwing its full weight in a 132-91 massacre of NorthPort last Sunday.
Alaska coach Alex Compton took note of Phoenix's strong start, attributing it to the energetic plays brought in by the 30-year-old Abueva.
"(The Fuel Masters) are playing really well and obviously Calvin makes the difference," Compton, whose team faces Phoenix at 7 p.m., told ESPN5.
Phoenix import Eugene Phelps, who so far is averaging 40.0 points, 16.0 rebounds and 6.0 blocks in the conference, will also be a concern for Alaska, Compton added.
Nicknamed "El Destructor", Phelps kicked off the conference with a 50-point effort against the Dyip, along with 17 rebounds and eight blocks. He then banged in 30 points, hauled down 15 rebounds and added four swats in their lopsided victory over the Batang Pier.
"Phelps is a great import especially this conference because in the 6-9 conference (Commissioner's Cup), he's still great but his height is not much of an advantage," explained Compton.
The Aces though have been playing excellent basketball as well this conference after defeating the Meralco Bolts, 80-72, followed by a 125-96 rout of TNT.
Import Mike Harris, the oldest import at 35 years old, showed he's still at the top of his game with solid per-game numbers of 19.5 points and 19.5 rebounds in the Aces' 2-0 start.
NLEX looking to bounce back
The Road Warriors hope the weeklong respite is enough to get the team back in the groove when they collide with the Columbian Dyip at 4:30 p.m.
The Road Warriors opened the conference with wins over TNT and NorthPort before getting hammered by the Magnolia Pambansang Manok last week, 102-72.
At 2-1, NLEX's record is respectable considering the team didn't have coach Yeng Guiao and Asi Taulava, both currently with the Gilas team in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. The team also continues to miss young guards Kevin Alas (knee injury) and Kiefer Ravena (FIBA suspension).
NLEX took the time to reintegrate returning import Aaron Fuller into the scheme of things as he takes the spot of Olu Ashaolu, who valiantly played through a hobbled knee during the team's first three games.
The Nigerian-Canadian reinforcement has since been undergoing rehab on his knee.
The Dyip, meanwhile, are determined to end their two-game slump to start the Governors' Cup.
Now mentored by new coach John Cardel, Columbian bowed to Meralco, 109-106 on opening day, before falling to Phoenix, 113-107.