SAN Mig Coffee welcomes the return of forward Marc Pingris from a two-game suspension as the Mixers try to clinch a quarterfinal berth in the PBA Governors' Cup at the expense of Barako Bull on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers are on a roll since starting the conference with back-to-back losses. They have won four of their last five outings to vault back into quarterfinal contention and keep their hunt for a Top Four finish alive.
As if that’s not enough piece of good news, the 6-foot-5 Pingris marks his return in the 3:45 p.m. game after being suspended for two games after engaging Globalport rookie Kelly Nabong in a fistfight in the encounter between the Mixers and Batang Pier last week.
“The key now is we can’t let down. We probably will have some comfort level with Ping (Pingris) back. We have to be carefully focused on the next game,” said Tim Cone, the San Mig Coffee coach, whose team is looking to break away from a tight four-way logjam in second place with its 4-3 record.
Although Barako Bull is coming off an embarrassing 93-120 defeat at the hands of Rain or Shine, Cone believes the Energy Cola remains a dangerous bunch.
“We’re glad to be where we are after our 0-2 start, but we still have a long road to go. Barako has been playing well so we’ve got to finish (well), so sweep both of them (last two games),” said the San Mig coach.
“We still got a lot of work ahead of us, can’t rest on our laurels now.”
In contrast to the Mixers, the Energy Cola have been playing inconsistent basketball in their last three games.
Handled by active consultant Rajko Toroman, Barako won just once in its last three outings, courtesy of a 98-97 decision over Globalport in a game that saw the Energy Cola come back from an 18-point third-quarter deficit.
Two of their losses, however, are both blowouts at the hands of league-leader Petron (87-112) and Rain or Shine (93-120).
As always, Toroman said playing aggressive basketball should always been foremost in the minds of the Energy Cola if they want to make it to the playoffs for the first time this season.