BARAKO Bull tries to revive its playoff hopes and arrest an alarming skid when it collides with a red-hot NLEX in the penultimate playdate of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Energy have fallen on hard times since their 3-0 start this conference as they lost their last four games that sent them teetering in the brink of elimination.
With a 4-6 slate, Barako Bull is currently tied at seventh to ninth spots with Alaska and Globalport, two teams which are also fighting for the two remaining playoffs berths.
“Kami naman, we just have to take care of our own backyard because our backs are against the wall,” said Barako Bull coach Koy Banal, whose team collides with the Road Warriors at 4:15 p.m.
Banal explained over the past days, he has devised some ways to keep the players fresh as they try to outrun an NLEX side, which has won a franchise-best five straight games.
“Upbeat naman sa practice. I tried saving their legs in our last three days of practice, though we know that after what we have done, the coaches will only do that much,” he said.
“Now it’s all up to them (Energy). How much they want to reach the quarterfinals. It’s about their desire.”
A win by Barako Bull, coupled by a San Miguel victory over Globalport in the second game, and an Alaska win against Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday could push the Energy to the no. 6 seeding in the playoffs.
Leading the charge anew for the Energy is Nigerian import Solomon Alabi.
The 7-foot Barako Bull reinforcement is averaging 23.2 points, 19.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per contest.
But local support is needed if the Energy hope to salvage their sagging campaign, especially from veterans JC Intal, Solomon Mercado, Chico Lanete along with youngsters Dave Marcelo, Jake Pascual, and Carlo Lastimosa.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez though has other things on his mind.
He said the Road Warriors will definitely try to ride on their momentum and finish the elimination round campaign on a high note.
“Gusto naming pumasok sa playoffs na galling sa panalo,” said Fernandez, whose team currently shares fourth to fifth spots with Meralco with similar 6-4 cards.
Other than import Al Thornton, who has been providing do-it-all numbers of 32.2 points and 13.1 rebounds for NLEX, Fernandez expects locals Asi Taulava, Jonas Villanueva, Mac-Mac Cardona and Nino Canaleta to bring in the much-needed firepower.