COACH Gee Abanilla wants Petron to match San Mig Super Coffee intensity for intensity when they clash in the main game of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Boosters are currently tied with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for second place with their identical 9-3 records, making a win over the Mixers imperative in their bid to keep their hopes alive for a top two finish and a twice-to-beat edge heading into the quarterfinals.
Petron clobbered San Mig, 91-78, behind June Mar Fajardo’s first 20-20 production of the season as the 6-foot-10 sophomore slotman finished with 21 points and 25 rebounds, one shy of his league career-high 26 boards he set during last season’s Governors Cup Finals against San Mig.
Abanilla though doesn’t expect a repeat of such monster game from Fajardo, who is still not 100 percent since recovering from an MCL sprain on his right knee last month.
“We really have our hands full against a San Mig team which is building up steam. Definitely, our work is cut out for us especially with June Mar not even near 100 percent,” said Abanilla, whose team needed a strong finishing kick in the fourth quarter to beat Globalport, 98-87 last week.
Fajardo just returned from a three-game absence and showed rust in his comeback game after finishing with just 12 points and six rebounds, while trying to get back into top shape following a three-week layoff.
“It’s a must that we match their (Mixers) tenacity because it seems that the quarterfinal level came in early for most of the teams,” said the Petron coach, who piloted the Boosters to a runner up finish in last season’s Governors Cup.
“We have to play a solid 48 minutes if we want to compete against them.”
On the other hand, San Mig coach Tim Cone expects an uphill battle for the Mixers in their last two games, beginning with the Boosters and followed by the showdown against three-time Philippine Cup champion Talk ‘N Text on Friday for its final game in the eliminations.
“We got two tough teams coming up with Petron and TNT, so I don’t think anybody has the toughest schedule like we do. But we’ll figure out a way,” said Cone, whose team is currently tied for sixth to seventh spot with Meralco in the bottom half of the standings.
San Mig resident star James Yap, who missed the team’s 67-60 win over Air21 last weekend, is returning to action after a bout with back spasm.
Team therapist Arcee Cua said the two-time league MVP is 90 percent in game shape since joining the Mixers’ practice the past three days.