FOR injured Petron guard Alex Cabagnot, the so-called “Petronovela” that haunted the team last season appears to be already a thing of the past especially after the Boosters kept their unbeaten run in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup with a come-from-behind 96-90 win over Barako Bull Wednesday night.
The Boosters’ fourth win in as many start came as a surprise considering they came into the game with just nine healthy players.
Cabagnot, who’s set to play his first game this season next week, said the positive changes in the team has a lot to do with the system, the coaching staff, and the players’ commitment to win no matter what it cost.
“The system was different now and then. Tapos si coach Todd (Purves) wala pa nun because we still had coach Rajko (Toroman),” recalled Cabagnot, who tore his plantar during the season-ending Governors Cup Finals last October.
Despite the absence of Cabagnot and a slew of other players such as Chris Ross (hamstring), Ronald Tubid (knee), Yousef Taha (knee) and just Wednesday night, Chris Lutz (left quadriceps), the Boosters are still doing well.
The team has also gone through the injury bug during the Philippine Cup last season when it lost then backup center Dorian Pena, Lutz, Marcio Lassiter and later on, rookie center June Mar Fajardo to injuries.
Coupled with the Boosters’ chaotic setup on the bench that had Toroman sharing coaching duties with then rookie coach Olsen Racela, Petron tumbled to a 6-9 record overall record at the end of the All-Filipino tournament.
The 30-year-old Cabagnot said this time around, coach Gee Abanilla wants everyone to raise the level of play despite an injury-depleted roster.
“Like what coach said, some guys might be out, but the level and how we’re satisfied as players and as a team should be the same,” he said.
“We should raise up our level.”
For his part, Lassiter, who torched Barako Bull for 26 points, said the unfortunate experience of the Governors Cup Finals has certainly forged the team’s chemistry this season.
“I don’t know if we have a lot to prove, but we just want to play,” said the Fil-Am guard.
“Maybe, we have some chemistry that has been helping us the last conference and that we carry over. And that’s what we’re trying to use.”