PETRON acknowledges it has one foot in the grave but it is determined to pull itself out of the hole when it faces No. 2 seed San Mig Coffee in their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal match on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Boosters go into survival mode when they plunge into action at 7:30 p.m. against the Mixers, who hold a twice-to-beat edge in the playoffs.
Arwind Santos, Petron’s double-double machine this conference, said practice has been good lately for the Boosters, but they need to find a way to translate it to victory against the Mixers.
“Lagi naman okay ang practice namin eh,” Santos told Spin.ph. "Pero iba yung game talaga. Ang mentality dapat namin, parang best-of-three. Kailangan lang maka-una kami sa San Mig and hopefully, maka two wins.”
But that won’t come easy for the Boosters, who ended their elimination round with a morale-deflating 71-79 loss to the Alaska Aces on December 5 in a game where they blew a 21-point fourth-quarter advantage.
“Malungkot, saka disappointed, pero ganun talaga. Nangyayari talaga yung ganung mga klase ng talo sa PBA. Nagkataon lang na nangyari pa sa amin yung ganung pagkatalo,” lamented the former FEU King Tamaraw, who ended the elimination round as the statistical-points leader in the Best Player of the Conference race.
Dennis Miranda, Petron backup point guard, said they can only beat a solid and veteran-laden San Mig team if they will play 48 minutes of good basketball.
“Kailangan naming ma-sustain yung 48-minutes na basketball. Extra focus lang talaga ang kailangan namin para ma-sustain namin yung energy namin against San Mig,” added the 30-year-old Miranda.
Although the Boosters struggled throughout the conference due to coaching transition, among others, San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone believes Petron has the manpower to stage an upset.
“We worked hard for the No. 2 seed. Now we’ve got to take advantage of this against Petron. We just have to make sure we defend their guys very well,” said the multi-titled PBA coach.
Cone said he expects rookie big man June Mar Fajardo to be a factor in the game, owing to his size and his mobility.
“June Mar can be very dominant, but it’s a good thing we have Yancy who take him on defensively,” he said.
James Yap, who was given a day off by Cone last Sunday, will be back in harness on Friday after resting his right ankle that has been bothered by bone spurs.