Powerade and Barangay Ginebra enter Friday’s games in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum wary of two teams in the bottom half of the standings.
The Tigers are running third with a 4-2 win-loss record and a victory in their 7:30 p.m. clash against Air21 will formalize their entry into the six-team second phase of the tournament.
“A win would really give us a good position in the semifinals,” rookie playmaker JV Casio said.
But Casio is not looking that far ahead as he and the rest of the Tigers know the Express remain dangerous, notwithstanding their woeful 1-5 slate.
“Their standing does not reflect their real capability,” Casio said. “Napaka-delikadong team pa rin nila.”
Ginebra, running sixth with a 3-3 mark, takes on cellar-dwelling Alaska in the curtain-raiser at 5:15 p.m.
The Kings, raring to get back on track after that loss to Powerade, are facing an Alaska side that has already been eliminated from playoff contention. But the Kings know the Aces won’t simply bow down without a fight.
“We can’t take Alaska for granted,” Kings coach Siot Tanquingcen said. “In spite of their circumstances, they have a proud tradition so we need to come in and play hard, stay focused.”
The Express will be missing key defensive player Ogie Menor, who will be serving a one-game suspension after being assessed a flagrant foul 2 for a hard hit on Meralco Bolts import Mario West on Wednesday. The Bolts won 106-77.
Import Zachary Graham shouldered most of the offensive load for the Express, tallying 36 points in 42 minutes. While Ren Ren Ritualo bounced back from a scoreless game to chip in 12 points, James Sena did the opposite as he failed to score following a 16-point performance in the previous game.
Powerade is unbeaten in four games with Omar Sneed, including an 86-83 win over Ginebra last week, but coach Bo Perasol stresses that extending the streak to five will not be easy even against lowly Air21.
“We fully understand what’s at stake in our game. However, we cannot burden ourselves with anything that will hinder us from playing hard for the whole 48 minutes,” he said.