PRE-tournament favorites Barangay Ginebra and Petron try to break their respective two-game skids when they face each other in a battle of two talented squads on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena.
The Gin Kings (2-2), who have lost their last two outings against the Meralco Bolts in Digos City and Barako Bull Energy Cola on Friday, tangle with the Boosters (1-3) at the 6:30 p.m. game.
Fil-American Chris Ellis, one of the highly-touted rookies this season, has voiced out his disappointment over the Gin Kings’ recent defeats after opening the season with victories over newcomer Globalport and Rain or Shine.
“We just have to try to get better communicating, we have to do a better job analyzing things inside the court. Of course, it’s really, really frustrating, but we’ll get stronger and get up,” said the 6-foot-4 Ellis.
Barangay Ginebra’s solid lineup has been strengthened by the addition of playmaker LA Tenorio, Ellis and another Fil-Am hardworking rookie in Keith Jensen during the offseason, easily installing the Gin Kings as a solid title contender.
But so far, they have yet to live up to their potential.
“We just have to pick up the intensity. I know Petron is a strong team too so we need to keep our focus,” added Ellis, a member of the three-time PBA D-League champion NLEX Road Warriors before turning pro last August.
On the other hand, Petron’s forward Arwind Santos also wondered why they couldn’t somehow get things going despite their much-improved roster.
“Minsan napapaisip din ako, malakas naman ang team namin. Pero siguro, nag-a-adjust lang talaga. Importante lang talaga na gawin namin ang roles namin sa team,” explained Santos, who hit just 11 points in the Boosters’ close 86-88 loss to the Alaska Aces on Friday night.
Petron still won’t have the huge inside presence of June Mar Fajardo, who’ll be out for a month after going under the knife to stop the bleeding in his scrotum which was accidentally hit during the Boosters' loss against San Mig Coffee a week ago.
Yet, Petron isn’t lacking in talent. The Boosters still have veteran big men Dorian Pena and Danny Ildefonso to man the post. They also have shooters Jay Washington, Chris Lutz and Joseph Yeo, while Alex Cabagnot, Dennis Miranda and Alex Mallari add depth to the backcourt.
With such a talented crew, Santos hopes they could use the game against the Gin Kings as a springboard to a better record.
Meanwhile, Meralco (2-2) hopes to recover from a narrow defeat Wednesday night when it clashes with Air21 (1-3) in the 4:15 p.m. first game.
Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio and some of his coaching staff lost valuables Wednesday at their MOA Arena dugout during the first half of their game against Globalport.
Gregorio admitted losing focus in the second half and losing grip of the game as the Bolts fell, 104-105 against the Batang Pier.