Surging Converge, Phoenix lock horns

Published November 9, 2022, 9:14 AM

by Reynald I. Magallon

Expect fireworks when Phoenix and Converge, the two hottest teams in the league so far, lock horns in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Converge coach Aldin Ayo (left) and Phoenix coach Topex Robinson (PBA Images)

Tied for the longest winning streak in the conference with five each, one between the Fuel Masters and the FiberXers will see their winning run come to an end while the other will get to extend it and rise up further the standings in the 3 p.m clash.

Following suit is the equally crucial match between slumping teams NorthPort and NLEX – both of which aim to pump life to their respective playoff bids.

With their teams pulling off the biggest surprises in the conference, all eyes are on the battle of coaching wits between two up-and-coming tacticians in coach Topex Robinson of Phoenix (5-3) and coach Aldin Ayo of the Converge (6-2).

The two young coaches are bracing for a tough battle ahead especially that their systems are somewhat splitting image of each other as they both love to play in the open court all while putting the clamps on their opponents with relentless and suffocating defense anchored on their cat-quick guards and solid interior defenses through their respective imports.

“It would be like a collegiate match up. I know coach Topex, I know coach Jamike (Jarin) and nakikita ko lahat ng ginagawa nila. I’m familiar with them and they’re familiar with me also. We got the same approach so it will be a great game,” said Ayo whose FiberXers notched their fifth straight win after a 108-84 triumph over NLEX.

“Coach Topex and Coach Jamike, maganda ‘yung tinatakbo nila because yung sa sistema nila. On our part, it’s time to do our best to establish yung ginagawa namin so I think it will be an interesting ball game. It will boil down to the preparation and the execution,” he added.

Robinson echoed the same sentiments, noting that facing Converge will give his team another opportunity to improve heading into the second half of the elimination schedule.

“We still have a lot of work to do. It’s gonna be harder next time because we are playing Converge which is also playing well and it’s gonna be an exciting opportunity for both of us, Coach Aldin,” said Robinson.

“Sa amin lang talaga it’s really just embracing hard, we took away ‘easy’ in our vocabulary and even if we were winning we just kept on pushing these guys and these guys are also pushing us coaches to get better,” he added.

An interesting battle is also set at the backcourt with the Phoenix rookie duo of Encho Serrano and Tyler Tio challenging the explosive combination of RK Ilagan, Aljun Melecio and Maverick Ahanmisi of Converge.

A more defensive oriented Kaleb Wesson, meanwhile, is tasked to put the cuffs on the high-scoring FiberXers import Quincy Miller who is eager to bounce back after he got ejected last time out.