THE race to the postseason heats up as four teams jockeying for position press their respective bids on Sunday in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Barako Bull and Star collide at 3 p.m. before Rain or Shine and Meralco square off at 5:15 p.m. in what promises to be a thrilling doubleheader on Fathers’ Day.
The Energy have been on a tailspin, having lost their last three games after establishing their best start in franchise history that saw them enjoy the top spot early in the season-ending conference.
Barako now finds itself running third with a 6-4 win-loss card in a tie with Globalport and the Elasto Painters.
“Kailangan namin mag-regroup,” Barako star Joseph Yeo said. “Pero buti ngayon na nangyari kesa sa playoffs pa. Dun na makikita yung character ng team namin, kung paano kami mag-bounce back.”
The Energy are coming off a 120-98 beating at the hands of Barangay Ginebra last Wednesday when the tall squad led by towering import Liam McMorrow faced problems against a small, yet quick Gin Kings sidet led by pint-sized playmaker Eman Monfort.
“Parang every time na mag-small ball yung kalaban, parang nahihirapan kami,” said Yeo, whose team is seeking to secure a Top Four berth and a twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it.
But Barako is bracing for another pesky test in the Hotshots, who could turn to their own small lineup led by sub-6-foot point guard Justin Melton, who stood tallest in their 105-93 win over Talk ‘N Text last Tuesday.
Whether its Melton or James Yap, Hotshots coach Tim Cone will ride on whoever steps up for his squad, which has won three of its last four games to stay in the hunt with a 4-5 record.
“That’s (riding hot players) the way we have to go at this point until we get everybody settled and all focused and going in the right direction,” the multi-titled American mentor said.
The main event is expected to be equally explosive.
After San Miguel Beer’s eight-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night at the expense of Alaska, the Elasto Painters are now the league’s hottest team, riding the crest of a five-game winning run, the latest a 94-90 win over Kia last Wednesday.
“We’re trying to keep our momentum, but at the same time, we don’t want to be bothered thinking about it,” Painters coach Yeng Guiao said. “We’ll just keep playing our best every game and see how far we can take the streak.”
The Bolts, on the other hand, have had an up-and-down conference, but have done enough to stay afloat and above .500 with a 5-4 slate. And one thing going for the team reinforced by Andre Emmett is that the squad has beaten teams below that are still in the hunt in TnT, Star, and Ginebra.
“Since this is a conference where’ they’re relying on the quotient system, it gives us a little bit of an advantage,” Bolts coach Norman Black said, referring to the winner-over-the-other edge they have against the Texters, Hotshots, and the Gin Kings. “But for us to get in the quarters, we really need to win at least one more win.”