BARAKO Bull coach Bong Ramos believes Petron will be a force to reckon with in the season-ending PBA Governors Cup given the amount of time the team had to bond together.
“They are really tough. They have a good import. They can do everything, shoot outside, post-up. It’s a strong team,” Ramos observed following the scrimmage the Energy Cola had with the Boosters at the San Juan Arena this week.
Good thing, Barako Bull managed to adjust in time and came back to forge a 108—all count at the end of the tune-up match.
“We just told our boys to execute well. Fluidity lang sa offense,” said Ramos, who was very satisfied with how veterans Celino Cruz, Doug Kramer, and youngster Allein Maliksi picked up the scoring cudgels for the team down the stretch.
But there was no denying that Petron is for real following two disappointing finishes in the first two conferences of the season.
“Nagulat kami sa depensa nila. Kakaiba ngayon. Lahat aggressive. Puro hassle. Talagang nalito kami sa atake. Lakas maka-pressure. Dikitan talaga,” said Barako Bull hotshot Ronjay Buenafe.
“Napuwersa nila kaming mag-turnover ng mag-turnover,” added the San Juan-raised dribbler.
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The Boosters controlled the tempo of the match for the first three quarters as they forced Barako Bull to commit 15 turnovers by halftime.
Petron had its biggest lead at 83-72 early in the third period.
Petron consultant John Todd Purves admitted he’s not happy with the game ending in a truce, but expects the game to be a learning experience for the team.
“We gave up too many free throws - 41 free throws are a lot. But we’re definitely taking steps in the right direction with our defensive system,” Purves said.
“Defense is what we focus on so far. I am very happy to see this team play today. I don’t enjoy finishing up with a tie. But I aspire the guys to play harder,” he added.
Petron coach Gee Abanilla, meantime, blames lack of manpower as among the reasons why the Boosters lost steam in the end.
“We just don’t have the other guys right now. Junemar (Fajardo) is with Gilas, Dorian (Pena) is injured, and some are still rehabilitating,” explained Abanilla.
“We did some good things. We’re working on our defense and hopefully, by August 16 we’ll be okay. Right now, there are still improvements,” he added. “It’s just a matter of buying into the system.
“Offensively we are working on it since day one. I see a lot of potential in it.”
Asked if Petron should be considered as one of the contenders in the coming season-ending tournament, both Abanilla and Purves gave modest answers.
“I will hope so. But the truth is, it’ll be speculation at this point. I just look forward to us getting better each day,” said Purves. “And growing and building our chemistry so we can play our best basketball when we need to.”
Abanilla said: “Man for man we have a good team. But we all know, talent will not win you games. What’s important for me is we gotta have that chemistry, intelligence and maybe it will bring us championships. We’re working towards that.”