ON a tailspin with three consecutive setbacks, Petron goes up against the DJ Mbenga-led Barako Bull five in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gametime is set at 4:15 p.m.
The Boosters are coming off a disappointing 92-102 defeat at the hands of the Meralco Bolts on Friday, spoiling the debut of new import Henry Sims, who had 23 points and 16 rebounds.
The six-foot-10 Sims, who admitted to running out of gas in the end against Meralco, vowed to do better even though he’ll be up against a seasoned former NBA big man in Mbenga.
“I feel I’ll come the same way, be aggressive, attack the boards, and have more shots fall for me, and get my wind on me. We just need to keep our heads up,” said Sims, who arrived only on Wednesday night after nearly 20 hours of travel time from the United States.
Alex Cabagnot, Petron’s lead guard, expects the Boosters’ new import to give a much better account of himself even if he’ll be up against a bulky big man in Mbenga.
“I give him (Sims) a little higher than 6 (in rating the Petron import’s first game). I couldn’t imagine what his body was going through (in his first game). It’s like a 24-hour flight, got delayed, practiced with us, new system, new environment but still has 23 points and 16 rebounds. So he has a lot of upside,” Cabagnot noted.
But the shifty Petron guard stressed the need to improve on their endgame plays, considering that their three consecutive defeats happened because they failed to execute well in the final three or four minutes of the game.
“It was a big run (for Meralco on Friday) that I wished we handled well (defensively). We have to learn from those situations. And yeah, it’s gonna be tough preparing for Barako Bull especially us coming from a loss,” he added.
Meantime, Barako Bull coach/consultant Rajko Toroman said he has seen some improvement on Mbenga, the seven-foot former LA Lakers big man who has been out of competition for the last three months.
“DJ is getting better. And he’s learning (the system) well. But we’ll see,” Toroman said of Mbenga, who arrived on Tuesday afternoon from Dallas, Texas.
Mbenga, an eight-year NBA veteran, was tapped to replace Evan Brock.
The Energy Cola, coming off a morale-boosting 105-100 win over San Mig Coffee on Easter Sunday for a 4-7 card, need to win their last three contests in order to gain better positioning going to the playoffs.