AIR21 is on a three-game winning run in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup which the Express hope to stretch when they battle Globalport Batang Pier Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
While the Batang Pier are on a six-game slide, Air21 coach Franz Pumaren has one main concern going to their 5:45 p.m. encounter.
“We have no idea about their new import,” he said, referring to Sylvester Morgan, Globalport’s third reinforcement this conference.
The 6-foot-10 Morgan planed in on Thursday as replacement for Walter Sharpe, the controversial import sent home by Globalport management for `conduct unbecoming of a professional.’
Morgan, who played college basketball for Georgia State, already practiced with the team and based on what he saw, coach Junel Baculi is hopeful the energy he showed would rubbed off on the rest of the Batang Pier, who are hard-pressed to win at this point as they face a must-win situation in their last five games.
The Batang Pier are at the bottom of the standings with a 2-7 (win-loss) card after starting the tournament by winning two of their first three outings.
“I guess we just have to rely on our scouting report to slow down their scorers,” said Pumaren, referring to Globalport's trio of hotshots in Gary David, Sol Mercado, and two-time league MVP Willie Miller.
In contrast, the Express have been on a roll of late, much of its success credited to the heads-up play of do-it-all import Michael Dunigan.
But defense more than Dunigan is the reason why the Express had equaled their longest winning streak first achieved in the Philippine Cup.
“We’re very underrated in terms of playing defense, but against San Mig (on Wednesday) we played great defense because for the second straight time, we held a top-notch team below its scoring average,” said Pumaren, whose Express turned back the defending champion Mixers, 87-80.
The Express (4-5) trampled the Batang Pier in their first meeting this conference, 106-94, as Dunigan erupted for 35 points and 20 rebounds in a monster effort.