JUNEL Baculi is quick to remind his Barako Bull players that the quicker they put behind them the sad experience in the controversial loss to San Mig Coffee, the better.
Just 48 hours after a controversial 91-92 loss to the Mixers, the Energy Cola plunge back into action and meet a well-rested Meralco Bolts team in the main game of the PBA Philippine Cup’s pre-Halloween treat at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The Energy Cola lost that one against the Mixers on a last-second defensive job made by big man Rafi Reavis, who was smart enough to tap away the ball while the leather was still above the cylinder following what could had been a game-winning shot by a driving Enrico Villanueva.
Baculi initially protested the non-call, of which he said Reavis should have been called for goaltending, but was prevailed upon by management after league commissioner Chito Salud repeatedly stressed the play "was legal."
Never mind that his team had fallen into a tie with Barangay Ginebra at 2-4 in the lower half of the standings. Baculi said there are far more important things to think about within the coming playdates beginning with the Energy Cola’s 7:30 p.m. match-up against the Bolts.
“We will make it (San Mig loss) our driving force,” he said. “Learn from it, and continue what we are doing right."
Like Barako, Meralco itself has its own sad tale to tell after still unidentified thieves robbed the team dugout at the Mall of Asia Arena and carted away the personal belongings of Ryan Gregorio and his coaching staff.
But unlike the Energy Cola, the Bolts are coming off a won game, an 85-72 rout of the Air21 Express in their return game at the same luxurious playing venue in Pasay.
Gregorio is well aware Barako will be well motivated following that sorry loss on Sunday night.
“Barako is coming off an emotional loss against San Mig Coffee. For sure, they will come out strong, so we must find ways to match or even come out stronger,” said Gregorio, whose Bolts are currently tied with the Mixers at 3-2.
San Mig, meanwhile, goes for a quick follow-up to its morale-boosting win over Barako when it battles newcomer Globalport in the 5:15 p.m. curtain-raiser.
Tim Cone, the Mixers coach, obviously heaved a sigh of relief after his team avoided a third straight loss.
But for sure, he’s not happy about his team being too "James reliant."
“We’ve got to get more guys involved. We have to diversify our offense down the stretch,” he said after watching the Mixers go to Yap over and over again during the crucial stretch of the team’s game against Barako.
“I feel sorry about James because we put so much pressure on him,” added Cone. “It’s a habit that we’re having a hard time breaking.”
Globalport is currently at the bottom of the standings, a place it currently shares with Air21 as both teams carry similar 1-5 (win-loss) records.