THE team that prides itself on defense faces the team that boasts the best scoring import this conference as the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals gets underway on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Third seed Meralco battles the explosive Mike Singletary and the sixth-seeded Barako Bull in the opening game of the playoffs, with the Bolts, enjoying a twice-to-beat privilege, looking to slam the door on the Energy Cola in the 5:15 p.m. encounter.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio admitted his team’s defense – the single major factor that brought the Bolts to the quarterfinals – will be put to a big test against the Energy Cola, specifically Singletary, whom he described as the best scorer in the league right now.
“We are up against the best scorer in the league, and our defense, which brought us to where we are right now, will be tested to the hilt,” said Gregorio.
He added, “We are not taking any chances. Barako is such a dangerous team. Our lockdown defensive mentality must be present at all times.”
The match marks the first game of big guard Jared Dillinger for Meralco after the Bolts acquired him from Talk `N Text in a three-team trade last June.
Coming off a long break after suffering an injury in a major road mishap, the 6-foot-5 Fil-Am guard will be given his minutes, according to Gregorio.
Despite the twice-to-beat edge of the Bolts, the Energy Cola like their chances as the team sees action in its first playoff stint this season.
“It’s going to be tough. Meralco is a strong team,” admitted Barako Bull coach Rajko Toroman. “But we’re a confident team, we know that we can win.”
The Energy Cola lost their last two games of the eliminations against San Mig Coffee and Alaska, but Toroman stressed the result of the match showed that "Barako Bull can compete."
One thing going against Barako Bull, however, is the absence of starting point guard Eman Monfort, who’s out for the rest of the conference due to a broken right ring finger.