BARAKO Bull tries to overcome tall odds as it plays the rest of the season without main playmaker Eman Monfort, and they enter the crucial stretch of the eliminations also possibly without top local Danny Seigle as the Energy Cola clash with the Alaska Aces in the PBA Governors Cup eliminations on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Monfort fractured his right pinkie during Barako Bull’s heartbreaking, 77-81, loss to San Mig Coffee on Saturday.
Seigle, the Energy Cola’s top local scorer, was also under the weather at posting time and may also skip the 5:15 p.m. match against the Aces (3-4).
But whether or not the 6-foot-7 Seigle can suit up and play, Barako Bull active consultant Rajko Toroman said the others will still have to step their game up several notches against the Aces, winners of the last conference who have lost two straight games.
“We just need to play with a lot more defensive intensity,” said Toroman.
The Serbian coach said the playmaking chores will now fall squarely on the shoulders of 36-year-old point guard Celino Cruz as well as seldom-used sophomore guard Shawn Weinstein.
“Eman is out for the conference because of that fracture on his right hand. Now Weinstein and Celino Cruz will have to play and step up. We don’t know what will happen but definitely, we will go all-out for the win,” added Toroman, whose team can barge into the quarterfinals with a victory over the Aces.
Barako Bull enters the match tied with Rain or Shine with 4-4 win-loss records.
Monfort has averaged 10.5 points and 4.6 assists as the team’s starting point guard this conference. He played big roles in three of the team’s first four victories this conference after scoring more than 18 or more points.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo recognizes the danger of playing a Barako Bull squad that can explode anytime behind its solid offensive roster. Import Mike Singletary, who leads the tournament in scoring
with his 35.75 points per game average.
“Barako Bull is a well-oiled machine and Mike Singletary is a load of an import,” noted Trillo.
“He’s (Singletary) one of the most versatile imports in the league that makes him difficult to match up because Barako always finds a way to get Mike to score,” he added.
Ironically, it was Singletary who wasted Barako Bull’s opportunity to force overtime when he accidentally dribbled the ball off his right foot during the dying seconds of their game against the Mixers. San Mig was up, 79-77 in the final five seconds of that match.
Singletary had no recourse but to foul Allein Maliksi in the next ball possession. Maliksi drained the two free throws, sealing Barako Bull’s third defeat in its last four games.
Trillo considers the last two games as must-win situations for them owing to the tightness of the standings going into the final few playdates of this single-round elims format.
“We can’t be too down on ourselves. For us, we’ll just try working at a better level, while against Barako Bull, we have to be sharp,” he added.