BEATING Talk `N Text for the first time in 10 meetings Wednesday night was, indeed, a confidence booster for Petron, according to coach Olsen Racela.
Now he hopes the Boosters carry on the momentum on Friday when they open their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three quarterfinals series against the Tropang Texters at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. with the Boosters eyeing a strong, aggressive start against the Tropang Texters in the race-to-two-wins series.
Despite the 87-76 win Petron scored against Talk `N Text on the final day of the eliminations, Racela believes the Tropang Texters didn’t really show their true might during the game.
“The first game is gonna be important. Siyempre, best-of-three lang yan eh. Di naman naglabas ng baraha si coach Norman (on Wednesday night). The real game will be the series starting Friday,” said Racela.
Nonetheless, the victory snapped the team’s nine-game losing streak against Talk ‘N Text since squandering a 3-1 lead in their semifinal series during the 2012 Philippine Cup.
The Boosters drew 22 points and 23 rebounds from import Henry Sims, while rookie center June Mar Fajardo finished with 17 and 10 boards as the two big men combined to dominate inside for Petron.
Racela feels Fajardo has what it takes to be a force to reckon with in the series.
“It was a really good game for June Mar, kasi kahit sino ilagay sa kanya, whether local or import, it’s gonna be hard to stop him when he’s hot because he’s got a nice touch from the perimeter and a lot of moves,” noted the young Petron mentor.
Black is aware of Petron’s big frontline and has already tasked seven-foot import Jerome Jordan, and local big men Ali Peek, Harvey Carey, and Rabeh Al-Hussaini to help in controlling the boards.
“It’s the playoffs so it’s do-or-die. The keys against Petron are to control our defensive boards and limit their second chance points. We want to make sure we match up well with their big and small lineups,” said Black.
The multi-titled mentor also noted they need three-point shooter Larry Fonacier to regain his touch in order to open up Petron’s interior defense and allow Jordan, Peek and slashing guards Jason Castro and Jared Dillinger to score inside.
“For us, we have to find a way to get Larry going offensively to stop them from clogging the lanes,” Black added.
The 6-foot-1 Fonaicer is averaging just four points and three rebounds in his last four games, including a poor 16.1 percent shooting from the field (5-of-31).