AIR21 is in survival mode and to do so, the Express need to beat a side that is already down and out.
The Express are hanging on to a share of eighth and last place in the next phase of the PBA Philippine Cup and desperately need a victory in their final elimination-round match against also-ran Globalport on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Tied for eighth with Barako Bull with a 4-9 win-loss record, Air21 is fancied to move a half step ahead in the battle for the last quarterfinal spot as it takes on Globalport, which has already been eliminated and holds a 1-11 card.
Barako Bull, on the other hand, has a tougher final assignment against third-running Rain or Shine on Friday.
If the Express and Energy Cola wind up with matching records, they face off in a knockout match for the last quarterfinal spot and the right to battle top seed Talk N Text in the knockout rounds.
Air21 subdued Globalport, 88-81 during their first encounter early in the conference, but Express coach Franz Pumaren noted the Batang Pier are much more dangerous now that they have been eliminated.
“We know Globalport is playing with less pressure, but I think the most important thing for us is we win and we start strong,” said Pumaren, whose team is coming off a 76-99 loss to Barangay Ginebra last week.
“Each game is still a learning process for the boys but definitely, we will go for the win and then just await the outcome of the Friday game by Barako. Whatever happens, at least, we will be prepared,” he added.