THE bad news: flu bug hits Petron.
The good news: the Blaze Boosters have all the time in the world to rest and recover.
Lady Luck seems to be finally smiling on Petron, a star-studded team that has underachieved for much of the season while being buffeted by one bad break after another.
One case in point: star player Arwind Santos suffered from tonsillitis and had to skip practice for two days. The viral infection soon spread, affecting June Mar Fajardo, Jason Deustchman, and import Elijah Millsap.
Fortunately, time is on the side of Petron which is in the middle of a 10-day break while waiting for the start of the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals where it will be the top seed.
The long break, in fact, got even longer when the playoff between Barangay Ginebra and Talk 'N Text was moved a day back to Tuesday due to the floods in Metro Manila, pushing back the start of the playoffs to Wednesday and Petron's quarterfinal outing to Thursday.
“Nagkaroon ng ganung sakit `yung mga players namin. Si Arwind ang pinakamalalang dinapuan. Ilang araw nawala,” said coach Gee Abanilla, who believes the constantly changing weather and the team’s tedious schedule during the eliminations had something to do with it.
“Sunod-sunod kasi `yung mga laro namin two weeks ago. Kaya bukod sa panahon, yun din siguro ang mabigat na rason kaya nagkasakit mga players namin,” added Abanilla. “Buti na lang, swerte at nataon na break kami.”
Lucky breaks like that were once hard to come by for the Boosters, which has gone through three coaching changes this season and saw their best shot at a championship disappear into thin air when import Renaldo Balkman was banned from the pro league for attacking a teammate.
With the Boosters riding high on an eight-game win run and Santos and Co. back in the pink of health, Abanilla's biggest concern now is the rust which may affect his team owing to the long break.
“Yun din ang naging worry namin. Kasi antagal naman ng pahinga namin. Kaya once in a while may planning session kami ng mga coaches,” said the rookie coach, whose team ended the eliminations with a league best 8-1 (win-loss) record.
“Pacing-pacing talaga kami. Pero sabi ko nga sa mga players ko, huwag natin isipan ng negative ang nangyari. Lalo lang kaming mapapahamak. Kaya 'yun na lang ang nire-remind ko sa kanila. At least, nakapahinga tayo pati `yung may mga sakit at may injuries.”
Since the Boosters’ last game on September 15, the coaching staff has already given the players a total of three days off -- with the first two coming the day after their last assignment, and the third one just last Saturday.
Asked which team he prefers to face between the Kings and Texters, Abanilla refused to choose.
“Mahirap pumili, dun ka pa makakarma in the end pag namili ka. Basta kami, we will just prepare ourselves and make sure we are ready come quarters time,” he said.