PETRON Blaze tries to sustain its winning run as it faces unpredictable Barako Bull Saturday in the PBA Philippine Cup Phoenix Road Game on Tour in Lucena City.
The 5-6 Boosters know they’ve got momentum on their side when they step on the court to battle the 3-7 Energy Cola in the 6:30 p.m. game.
But even with back-to-back wins to boot, Petron rookie coach Olsen Racela said the Boosters are not in any way going to relax as they need to position themselves well going into the quarterfinals.
“When we were in a losing streak, realistic approach lang kami, just to get into the playoffs, and then work our way up,” he said.
“But now, our concentration is Barako Bull because after playing these two teams (the other one Globalport) right below us eh, by beating them, that would help us get into the playoffs. So unahin muna makapasok sa eighth (spot), then work our way up.”
The Boosters have won their last two games against Rain or Shine (96-86) and Globalport (110-81), showing what they can actually do on the court when they play good defense as a team.
Racela said team defense is something they have been practicing this entire conference.
“Defense, we’re second to the last in defense, so `yun ang concentration namin. Individually, they are good defensive players. But as a team kailangan naming mag improve,” he added.
With 6-foot-9 rookie big man June Mar Fajardo back in action, the Boosters have a reliable post player and intimidating presence who can anchor the team’s defense.
So far Fajardo didn’t disappoint during his first game back after undergoing surgery as the University of Cebu alumnus marked his return with 14 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
Dorian Pena might be a game-time decision after being sidelined with knee contusion. In the event the 6-foot-7 Pena gets back in action, the Boosters will definitely be at an advantage against a smaller Barako Bull side, which lost 6-foot-5 veteran center Enrico Villanueva for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear on his knee.
The Energy Cola have lost four of their last five games, and are now in danger of being one of two teams to be eliminated.
Bong Ramos, appointed to handle the team following the firing of Junel Baculi a week ago, lost in his first coaching comeback after Barako Bull dropped a 73-93 loss to San Mig Coffee at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.