PETRON’s looming showdown with Rain or Shine is going to be a test of character for a team currently in the eye of a storm.
Veteran point guard Denok Miranda said the Boosters had started to pick up the pieces while getting ready to play the Elasto Painters, with no import in their lineup if they have do, this Saturday in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup Phoenix Game on Tour in Panabo, Davao Del Norte.
For the first time on Tuesday, the Boosters conducted their regular practice without import Renaldo Balkman, who was banned from the league by commissioner Chito Salud for grave misconduct.
It took a while for the team to get used to practicing without the energetic but temperamental 6-foot-6 import, Miranda said.
“Yung simula ng practice, medyo naninibago pero after a while, parang bumalik na din yung (energy) sa ensayo kasi wala na rin naman kaming magagawa eh. Kailangan na naming mag-move on,” Miranda told Spin.ph shortly after team practice at the Acropolis gym in Libis, Quezon City.
He added, “Dito masusubukan ang character ng team. At the same time, ngayon may chance na ma-prove ng team na we can all step up kahit wala kaming import sa Sabado. Ngayon kasi, wala pang balita sa import na papalit.”
The former Far Eastern University star said Petron coach Olsen Racela already is already priming up the Boosters’ minds that they may go all-Filipino against Rain or Shine even as officials burn the lines trying to get a replacement for Balkman in time for Saturday’s game.
While there had been reports that former Barako Bull import Rodney White is set to take the place of Balkman, Miranda said nothing remains certain till the 6-foot-9 American reports for practice.
The latest Petron drama happened at a time when the 6-foot Miranda was playing his best game of the conference against Alaska last Friday, which saw him finish with 17 points on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc, while adding six assists in a solid backup job to returning playmaker Alex Cabagnot.
Unfortunately, the Boosters, bowed to the Aces, 73-83 in a game where Balkman stole the limelight following his late-game outburst by shoving the referees, assistant coach Biboy Ravanes and teammate Ronald Tubid, while later administering a choke hold on star forward Arwind Santos.