PETRON Blaze tries to move closer of clinching one of top two spots in PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup when it takes on Barako Bull at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.
The Booster (8-2) will still be without sophomore center June Mar Fajardo, but remains the fancied team in the 8 p.m. contest.
A win will vault Petron back for a share of the lead with idle Barangay Ginebra (9-2), one of only two teams to have inflicted the Boosters a loss this season.
For Petron coach Gee Abanilla, a win is a must if the team wants to get a clear lock on one of the top two spots at the end of the eliminations, which guarantees a twice-to-beat incentive heading into the playoffs.
“Our next four games will be critical for us if we want to give ourselves a chance for the top two positions as we near the end of the eliminations,” said Abanilla.
“We have a lot of respect to the Barako Bull team and we know for a fact that it is a very dangerous team.”
Petron tripped Barako Bull, 95-90, during the first round when the Boosters won seven straight games.
But without the injured Fajardo in the middle, Abanilla hopes backup big men like Doug Kramer and Yousef Taha will continue to hold the fort until the 6-foot-10 stalwart out of University of Cebu returns to active duty.
“We’re still hoping that everybody could pitch in and hold the fort until the whole team is healthy,” said Abanilla, whose prized center will more likely play in the team’s last two games in the double-round eliminations as he recovers from an MCL sprain on his right knee.
On the other hand, Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos said the team is in a “must-win” situation with three games left on its schedule.
He stressed hope the Energy could take advantage of Fajardos’ absence.
“It’s a must-win game. I know we’re the underdog, but we’ll try to upset teams,” said Ramos, whose team closed out 2013 with a 108-95 victory over slumping Globalport last week.