ASI Taulava hopes Air21’s loss to Talk ‘N Text serves as an early wake-up call as the Express resume their fight for a Top 4 spot in the PBA Governors Cup when they mix it up with the Meralco Bolts on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.
The Express (3-2) failed to put up a decent fight in their 102-91 loss to the Tropang Texters Monday night.
The boys of coach Franz Pumaren finished the game with just 12 assists while allowing the Talk 'N Text gunners like Jimmy Alapag, Jason Castro, and Ranidel de Ocampo to punish them with an array of shots inside and outside.
“We didn’t rotate well. We gotta be more responsible in going out there and following the defensive game plan,” said Taulava, whose 20-point, 15-rebound effort could not save the Express from suddenly dropping into a tie for fourth to fifth spots with San Miguel Beer in the standings.
The Express though have an opportunity to bounce back when they go up against the Bolts at 5:45 p.m.
Taulava said the loss should spur the team to work even harder considering the compact conference schedule, and the tough competition they are facing in their remaining four games in the elimination round.
“There’s (schedule) nothing you can complain about. Either you got it in you to compete every night or you don’t,” said the evergreen Air21 big man.
“And that’s good for us, especially after losing on Monday. We are eager to get back in the game on Wednesday and make up for it,” he added.
On the other hand, Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said the Bolts haven’t accomplished anything yet after chalking up just their first win on Sunday, an 88-87 squeaker over the skidding Alaska Aces.
Still occupying the cellar in a tie with Barako Bull at 1-4, Gregorio said Meralco has to keep winning to revive their playoff hopes in the season-ending conference.
“We’re still on survival mode,” said Gregorio. “We got a much-needed win against Alaska, but since our hole is so deep, we must keep on winning.”
The three-time PBA champion coach said defense will have to be consistent for the Bolts to get their second win, especially against a confident Express side.
“I thought our defense which was absent the first four games, bailed us out. After allowing 100 points per game the first four games, we finally limited our last opponent to just 87,” the 42-year-old Meralco coach pointed out.