Tio bullish on Phoenix rookies

Tyler Tio Phoenix PBA

Phoenix guard Tyler Tio. PBA IMAGES

Tyler Tio is looking forward to how the four rookies can provide a lift for Phoenix once the real games start in the season-opening PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

The Fuel Masters enter the 48th season with first-round pick Ken Tuffin, Ricci Rivero, Raffy Verano and Matthew Daves looking to figure prominently in the team’s bid to put up a competitive showing.

“I think we have the talent, the youth and the energy,” Tio said. “It’s just a matter of finding the right chemistry.”

Tuffin was taken seventh in last month’s draft after the former Far Eastern University mainstay played the last two years in New Zealand’s National Basketball League.

One of the most prominent names in the draft, Rivero was taken in the second round. Late picks Verano and Daves are Tio’s ex-teammates at Ateneo.

“Tuffin is a good three and D guy (player who can shoot the three and a capable defender) and he’s a very smart player,” Tio said. “And he’s very experienced also coming from New Zealand. He doesn’t play like a rookie.

“Raffy and Matthew [were] my teammates at Ateneo, so I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of adjustments while I’ve played against Ricci since grade school so it’s a nice change that we’re on the same team.”

The Fuel Masters go into the season with Tio expected to have a bigger role after Encho Serrano decided to transfer to the MPBL instead of signing a new deal.

Coach Jamike Jarin has also been handed a permanent role to call the shots for the Fuel Masters, who will also be led by forward Jason Perkins.

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