Roles reversed as Barako Bull bids to pile pressure on 'sleeping giant' San Miguel
Leo Austria and the Beermen can't afford to lose against Barako Bull. Jerome Ascano

BARAKO Bull tries to play the executioner’s role when it faces struggling powerhouse San Miguel Beer in the main game of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday.

The roles are ironically reversed in the 7 p.m. game since it will be San Miguel, and not lowly Barako Bull, which will be fighting for dear life  at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen are 1-6 (win-loss) and may need to win their last four games just to make the eight-team playoffs, barely months after ruling the Philippine Cup for the first time since 2001.

On the other hand, Barako Bull is in a much better position to make the playoffs at 4-3, good for a share of fifth place with Ginebra.

Barako coach Koy Banal, however, remains wary of the Beermen who he says are 'sleeping giants.' He also expects to face a much more determined SMB side after its 104-113 overtime loss to Purefoods.

“Galing sila sa talo kaya mahirap din na sitwasyon 'yan for us because they are capable of playing,” said Banal. “Look at their roster, ang lalim nun, plus they are a champion team.”

Barako is coming off a 103-91 loss to Rain or Shine last week, prompting Banal to call on his players to focus more on defense.

Barako Bull has transformed into a mean defensive squad under Banal, limiting opponents to just 78.7 points in its four victories in the midseason conference.

“Kami, we just want to take care of the things we have control of, kaya nga what we need to do is make sure we control their (Beermen) transition points,” Banal said.

SMB coach Leo Austria acknowledged his team is in a perilous position but continues to stick to positives, saying he saw shades of the Beermen's intensity late in the loss to Purefoods.

“I’m happy to see them display the game that we had during the first conference. Hindi nga lang nakumpleto yung rally,” said Austria, noting how the Beermen rallied from a 17-point deficit to forge overtime.

“We still have a chance and you can never know what will happen,” he added.

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