THE transition seems to be endless for Petron Blaze.
Still adjusting to the system of rookie coach Olsen Racela, the team is set for another major readjustment after the recent loss of its last legitimate big man Dorian Pena, who suffered knee contusion during practice.
Pena joins June Mar Fajardo and Danny Ildefonso on the injured list, making the job just a little more challenging for the Boosters’ 42-year-old rookie coach.
“Maliit talaga kami, lumaban naman because we played a good first half. Di lang namin na-sustain. Others kasi, ginagawa nila yung normally din nila ginagawa dahil kulang kami,” Racela told Spin.ph after his team’s 82-92 setback against defending champion Talk ’N Text.
Now the undermanned and undersized squad braces for a tough back-to-back schedule against Meralco and Rain or Shine.
Swingman Jay Washington has been forced to play the slot the past games to help out lean center Magi Sison, and newly-acquired 6-foot-4 Brian Faundo who on his first game had four points and three rebounds in 20 minutes on Wednesday night against Talk ’N Text.
The Boosters succumbed to the powerhouse Tropang Texters, who peppered them with 12 three-point shots in the game.
Still, Racela believes his team’s performance against Talk ’N Text is a marked improvement compared to the Boosters’ 76-97 blowout loss to Air21 last week.
Currently tied for sixth to seventh spot with Barako Bull at 3-5, Racela said their urgent target is to move up to the upper bracket of the standings.
“Right now, maka-akyat muna kami. Di namin goal yung mag-top two. One game at a time lang and avoid being in the last two. Move up lang because we don’t want to be at a twice-to-beat disadvantage kaya crucial yung game against Meralco,” added Racela.
Arwind Santos, the team’s double-double machine, couldn’t hide his frustration after the Boosters absorbed another loss.
“Maganda na kahit paano pinakita namin sa first half, pero kinapos na lang talaga kami. Kulang din kasi kami sa big men. Na-injured pa si Dorian,” said Santos, who finished the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds after playing for 43 minutes.
The 6’3” Santos said sweeping the last six assignments might be next to impossible, but if they could put up a decent fight in all their remaining games, he is convinced the Boosters can barge into the quarterfinals.
“Sana kahit maka 3-3 na kami sa last six games, I think magandang chance pa rin. Impotante lang talaga lumaban kami,” added the 31-year-old Santos, who is averaging 18.25 points and 11.75 rebounds for the Boosters in the Philippine Cup.