FRANZ Pumaren knows how critical Air21’s last two games will be, beginning with the Express’ huge rematch against defending champion San Mig Coffee on Wednesday night in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Saying their destiny is in their hands, the Express (5-7) try to snap out of a two-game losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive when they clash with the Mixers (6-6) at 5:15 p.m.
“Practice is okay, and like what I’ve been telling my players, we need to take care of our destiny. Though this is going to be a different San Mig Coffee with Joe Devance back in the lineup,” Pumaren said, whose team actually took a huge 87-82 win over the Mixers during their initial encounter this conference at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Pumaren is hopeful that his local will get their acts together and come up with a more consistent support to do-it-all import Michael Dunigan.
“In the four-game winning streak we had (this conference), our locals played a big role. That is very important for us in these last two games because Michael (Dunigan) will also give his contribution,” he added.
On the other hand, San Mig coach Tim Cone remains hopeful that his boys will come up with a more consistent performance, especially in the team’s last two outings where they could still qualify at least, for the top six.
“We’re still fighting for the top six if we can get it, but if not, we’re not afraid to finish seventh or eighth. It’s harder, though we’re still battling for position,” Cone said.
Cone has been ruing the team’s inconsistent plays, which saw the Mixers go on a win-lose-win-lose cycle recently.
“We just have to be consistent in terms of effort, in terms of rebounds, in terms of practice habits and in terms of our defensive habits. But so far, it’s been an inconsistent offense for us that’s why it’s been very frustrating,” he added.
While Dunigan and San Mig’s Denzel Bowles are expected to play their usual best, the locals of the Mixers, particularly James Yap, Peter June Simon, playmaker Mark Barroca and rebounding demon Marc Pingris need to come out with a better effort if they hope to generate some momentum heading into the playoffs.