RYAN Gregorio is aware the odds are stacked against his Meralco team when it squares off with no less than defending champion San Mig Coffee in the opener of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three quarterfinals on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With only a day to prepare against a well-rested Mixers side since coming off an emotional 118-116 overtime win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday, Gregorio considers the Mixers as one big hump the Bolts will have to overcome in their quest for a first-ever Finals stint.
“We’ve been in this situation before because we made it to the playoffs. The challenge really is to get over the hump. And this is not gonna be the first time we’ll be facing them (Mixers),” said Gregorio.
“It’s not gonna be easy, but at least there is a chance.”
The Bolts enter Game One of the series, set at 5:15 p.m., winless in two outings against the Mixers this conference.
“They had our number this year, but the playoff is a different story. We’ve got to win to stay in, go hard or we go home,” added Meralco import Eric Dawson, who is coming off a 50-point performance in an overtime win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday.
It remains to be seen, though, how the Bolts could deal with the fatigue factor after being stretched by the Elasto Painters into a five-minute extension.
On the other hand, Joe Devance, San Mig’s starting forward, said the quarterfinals offers a whole new challenge for the Mixers as they step up their pursuit of back-to-back Commissioner’s Cup crowns.
“I think they (Bolts) are a confident team. It’s not that we won by 20 (points) and blew them out, but all the games we played (against them) were pretty close. So that (2-0 head-to-head this conference) won’t mean anything in the playoffs,” said the 6-foot-7 Devance.
San Mig import Denzel Bowles, averaging 22.9 points,15 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks in 39.3 minutes of play, will definitely have his hands full in his match-up against the high-scoring Dawson.
The Meralco import has been doing it all for the Bolts as can be gleaned from his impressive stats line of 30.79 points along with 15.4 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.5 blocks in more than 40 minutes of play a game.
Help must come from locals like Mac-mac Cardona, Ronjay Buenafe, Sunday Salvacion and playmaker Chris Ross.