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Phoenix now gaining more fans following PBA Comm's Cup semis run

Phoenix has gained more fans due to it's PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinal run. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—Many PBA fans have been expressing concerns about the league's parity in recent years with teams either from the San Miguel Corporation or the MVP Group all making the semifinals and all the more the finals of a certain conference.

All that changed in the ongoing PBA Commissioner's Cup when Phoenix clinched a semifinal spot, becoming the only "independent" team to make the Final 4.

In their series against the SMC-owned Magnolia Hotshots, the Fuel Masters kept their first two games close but could not take down the multi-titled Purefoods franchise.

Despite falling short on both occasions, Phoenix gradually earned the respect of the fans, and in Game 3 on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, many fans old and new came out to support them, eventually becoming part of a season-high 15,126 people in attendance during the doubleheader.

The team returned the favor by dealing Magnolia a 103-85 win to keep their hopes alive.

"I'm just very thankful for everybody--for our families, the supporters, and the fans that have been supporting and praying for us. We appreciate that," coach Jamike Jarin said after the Fuel Masters' first semifinal win since the 2020 season bubble in Angeles.

Jarin, a known champion coach in the high school and college ranks before taking over the Phoenix gaffer spot from Topex Robinson, believes that the team is attracting more of a Gen Z audience due to its youthful core, that is, only four players are already or turning 30 this year.

"Siguro because we're a young team, we give inspiration for these young boys and girls that pursue a career, and we play selfless basketball," Jarin continued.

He then jokingly said, "It also helps na ang popogi kasi ng players ng Phoenix, pero syempre ako yung pinakapogi."

As the Fuel Masters engage in another must-win game on Wednesday night back at the MOA Arena, expect more fans in teal to support them.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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