BARAKO Bull gets a boost in its PBA Governors Cup campaign as big man Enrico Villanueva finally sees action on Sunday after nine months of inactivity.
The 6-foot-5 Villanueva plays his first game this year against Globalport as the Energy Cola and Batang Pier collide in the first game of a doubleheader at 4:15 p.m. at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The center out of Ateneo de Manila has been out of action for the last nine months since undergoing surgery to repair a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late last year.
Rajko Toroman, Barako Bull’s active consultant, said the team will slowly break Villanueva into the scheme of things, though the Serbian mentor believes the veteran center can help in the Energy Cola’s drive for a top four finish at the end of the eliminations.
“I know it could be very difficult for Rico to adjust after eight months of being out due to injury, but we’ll slowly play him. He’ll be a big help for us,” said Toroman, whose Energy Cola carry a 3-2 (win-loss) slate.
Currently in joint third with idle Alaska, Barako Bull is coming off its worst loss of the conference after its 87-112 beating at the hands of league-leader Petron Blaze on Tuesday.
“Nobody wants to start the game slow against a strong team like Petron. But we need to play with greater energy and defensive aggressiveness against Globalport because that is a dangerous team,”
The Serbian coach said the Energy Cola are preparing some defensive schemes to make sure Globalport’s gunners like Gary David, Jay Washington, and even import Markeith Cummings won’t be able to come up with their usual numbers.
“I’ve been telling my players to keep our confidence high no matter what happens. We need to play well on defense against Gary, Jay Wash, and their import who is really good,” he added.
Globalport has been on a two-game slide after losing to Talk ‘N Text (95-102) and just last Wednesday against San Mig Coffee (88-102) in a fight-marred game at the Astrodome.
Backup rookie big man Kelly Nabong will be serving his one-game suspension for being involved in a fight with San Mig forward Marc Pingris during the game won by the Mixers, 102-88.