IT would seem foolish to write “Barako Bull” and “championship contender” in the same sentence.
But not for Energy import Liam McMorrow, who has been the anchor of the team’s surprising start in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“It’s not crazy at all,” the 7-foot-2 Canadian slotman said after the Energy’s 105-99 win over Meralco that kept them the only unbeaten team in the season-ending conference. “It might be, considering the team’s history. But it’s not with this team.”
McMorrow has obviously browsed through the early pages of the history of the team, which has always been stuck in a transitory place that separates the elite from the cellar-dwellers.
But the Energy have made strides in recent conferences, slowly earning a reputation as a postseason contender behind a rag-tag roster made up mostly of 'exiles' who all have found a home in the team.
More than half of Barako Bull players - or nine to be exact - were shipped from San Miguel Corp. teams: Joseph Yeo, JC Intal, Dylan Ababou, James Forrester, Paolo Hubalde, Justin Chua, Chico Lanete, Willie Wilson, and Rico Maierhofer.
Some nights, it was Intal and Ababou who shine brightest. On Sunday, it was Chua, who gave the team a big lift that helped them turn the game around in the third quarter as he filled the void left by McMorrow, who sat out most of the period due to foul trouble.
“I want to give the players the credit,” Energy coach Koy Banal said. “If one guy or two guys have off nights, somebody will step up.”
“Parang hindi mo rin alam kung paano i-scout ang team namin,” Yeo, who scattered a season-high 28 points highlighted by five three-pointers off the bench, said. “Tapos we have a big import pa, kaya big advantage sa amin.”
Now, the Energy are the league’s hottest team, having won their first four games. But they hope to avoid what happened in the Commissioner’s Cup, where they also had a rousing start with three straight wins, before they lost eight of their last 10, including their quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Talk ‘N Text that eliminated them from title contention.
“Ayaw na namin maulit yung ganun, so ine-enjoy lang namin,” Yeo, acquired from Ginebra the day before the start of the conference, said. “Kung makapasok kami ng Top Four, it’s a big achievement, pero syempre, top eight pa rin ang goal namin.”
What’s important is the present.
“It’s just a sign that everybody’s excited about what’s happening,” Banal said.