STUNG by Air21, San Miguel tries to keep its campaign alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as the two teams battle each other in a do-or-die encounter for a semifinals berth on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 8 p.m. with the winner joining early qualifier Talk ‘N Text in the Final Four.
“Air21 is highly motivated after that win (on Tuesday), and again, this game is no longer about Xs and Os. We really need to match Air21’s energy, intensity, and physicality,” said San Miguel Beer coach Biboy Ravanes, whose star-studded team could avert a disastrous playoff exit with a victory.
The Beermen fell to the Express last week, 92-79, in a game that saw them trail from start to finish after failing to get anything on offense from Best Player of the Conference candidate June Mar Fajardo and gunner Marcio Lassiter.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo was rendered ineffective last Tuesday after being bugged by foul trouble. He played just 24 minutes and finished with five points as he was fielded in and out of the game after being outplayed by Air21 veteran center Asi Taulava.
On the other hand, Lassiter scored just two points after being hounded the whole time by Joseph Yeo.
Ravanes said the Beermen cannot afford to trail by another big deficit and expect to mount a strong comeback in the final quarter every time.
“We played catch-up basketball again and unfortunately, we weren’t able to recover. Ngayon, if we do that again (trail by a big deficit), we will have to pay the price,” added Ravanes, who is in his first conference as the team’s head coach.
Meantime, Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said the team is not resting on its laurels despite the 13-point victory.
“We know this is just gonna be a short-lived celebration. We play them (Beermen) again Friday,” said Pumaren. “Playing the No. 2 team this conference is very tough, but I just hope we will still continue to do what we’re capable of doing.”
Another win by Air21 will tow the Express to their first-ever semifinal appearance and become just the 10th No. 7 team in league history to beat a second-seeded team.