JUNEL Baculi knows Globalport caught a big fish on Friday when it defeated tournament favorite Petron Blaze at the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
On Sunday, the new-improved Batang Pier will try to seize the early lead when it takes on opening day winner Barako Bull for the solo top spot of the import-laden conference.
The Batang Pier scored a 94-92 cliffhanger over the Boosters at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum despite the early ejection of import Justin Williams.
The 6-foot-9 energetic reinforcement was tossed out in his league debut after being hit with a flagrant foul technical 2 for elbowing Petron rookie JuneMar Fajardo during the third period as he tried to create a space between them after pulling his 15ht rebound of the game.
Williams, who was later fined P40K by the PBA Commissioner’s Office, already had 18 points and three block shots at that point.
Still, the Batang Pier kept the flame burning in Williams’ absence and pulled off the rousing win behind the heroics of new recruits Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado along with veteran guard Gary David.
“We still have a lot of jelling to do. We relied so much on a lot of individual talent. But we can’t simply rely on that. We need to build chemistry,” said,Baculi, who will be up against his former team in the 4:15 p.m. encounter.
“One of the coach’s job is to work on the referees. I’m telling them that the other team is pulling the hands of my twin towers (referring to Williams and Aguilar). They’ve got to call that first. But I also told Justin we can’t afford that (to lose him) anymore,” explained Globalport’s new head coach.
Meanwhile, Barako Bull active team consultant Rajko Toroman stressed the Energy Cola is also a team in transition considering the injured players they have, the new system he just installed, and the new players that they acquired from the recent trade.
“A lot of things in my system are new. But there are some that we’ve used while I was with Smart Gilas and with Petron. But now, we need time,” Toroman said, whose injury-riddled squad scored a confidence-building 79-75 victory over import-less defending champion San Mig Coffee also on Friday night.
Despite the numerous transitions, Toroman said the atmosphere in practice remains light.
“Really we have a nice atmosphere in practice. They are working hard and trying to pick up everything. When JC Intal comes back (from the injury), along with Sean Anthony, then this team will be respectable,” he added.