PETRON tries to go for the all-important win in an attempt to regain solo second place in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup when it tangles with skidding Globalport in the main game of a Friday twinbill at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Following their shocking 88-92 loss to Barako Bull two days ago, the Boosters found themselves in a tie for second spot with Rain or Shine Elasto Painters with similar 8-3 (win-loss) records.
But Petron will go to its 8 p.m. match against Globalport (4-7) with a greater sense of urgency, knowing a win can enhance its chances at earning one of only two twice-to-beat incentives heading into the playoffs.
Petron assistant coach Leo Austria noted injured big man June Mar Fajardo’s absence has made the team vulnerable in its interior defense the past three games.
“Iyung presence pa lang niya (Fajardo) malaking tulong na sa team eh, so nung nawala siya, at the back of the minds of the players, something is lacking now in our team, dahil integral part siya ng offense at defense,” Austria said.
Fajardo was averaging 15.5 points, 17.2 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks prior to spraining his MCL in his right knee before Christmas, numbers which, Austria said, represent 30 percent of the team’s total strength this All-Filipino conference.
“Kung isa-sum up mo yan (Fajardo’s statistics), eh 30 percent iyan ng output na naitutulong ni June Mar,” he said.
“So in a close game, you need June Mar both on offense and defense. Our shooters will have a hard time because we don’t have a threat at the shaded area.”
For Globalport coach Ritchie Ticzon, Petron remains a dangerous bunch owing to its armada of scorers, who can light up the scoreboard on any given night.
“We need to stop their (Boosters) transition offense and contain their scorers. So we need an all-out effort for the game (Friday),” said Ticzon, whose team is out to arrest its four-game losing streak and revive its playoff hopes.
Veteran guard Sol Mercado is expected to return from a one-game absence after resting his right Achilles which he hurt in the team’s 95-108 loss to Barako Bull on December 29.