WITHOUT the league’s best big man, Petron coach Gee Abanilla said they have adjusted their game plan heading into the keenly-awaited Christmas Day collision with sister team Barangay Ginebra in the PLDT
myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Boosters (7-1) will be missing June Mar Fajardo, who has been a steady presence with averages of 15.5 points, 17.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks this conference, but still they are confident of pulling off the win against the streaking Gin Kings (7-1) in their 8 p.m. match.
The winner grabs the lead in the standings, which has been held by Petron for a month, before seeing its seven-game winning streak end on Saturday after bowing to the undersized Rain or Shine side, 99-95 in
Abanilla said the Fajardo-Greg Slaughter personal duel would have been nice to see, but with the 6-foot-10 Petron sophomore center out of commission due to a knee injury, that will have to wait.
“I think June Mar is really a good match up for Greg and the other bigs, but nawala nga. Pero our coaching staff has devised some game plans, hope it could work tomorrow. It’s a matter of executing them,” Abanilla told Spin.ph shortly after the team’s early morning practice on Tuesday at the Reyes gym.
Petron’s team consultant Todd Purves, who has been working with the big men in practice, said the absence of Fajardo gives backup center Doug Kramer and second-year pro Yousef Taha the opportunity to shine.
“June Mar is playing about 36 to 38 minutes. That’s a lot of additional minutes those guys (Kramer and Taha) have to to fill in and we expect them to perform,” explained Purves.
“They’ve got their hands full with two great players at front court and two more guys coming off the bench in Jay-R (Reyes) and Billy (Mamaril) who are veterans. We got our hands full but we expect our
guys to compete,” he added.
Meantime, Ginebra’s top playmaker LA Tenorio intends to help Japeth Aguilar and Slaughter get into the rhythm early because that would make the game easier.
“I want to make sure they (Aguilar and Slaughter) get their rhythm first before ako. Importante kasi sila sa team namin. They are our advantage so might as well bigay na lang sa kanila ang bola,” Tenorio
said, who is averaging 12 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists per contest this conference.
Aguilar has been sensational this season, leading the team in scoring with a career-best 19.7 points, to go along with 9.1 rebounds and a league-best 4.0 blocks per contest.
The 6’11” Slaughter, on the other hand, averages 15 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in his first eight games as a rookie.