STREAKING Petron Blaze hopes to maintain its sharpness and quickly finish off Barangay Ginebra when they collide in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Boosters have been sensational since losing the conference-opening game against the Meralco Bolts, scoring eight consecutive wins on the way to clinching the top seeding in the playoffs.
But rookie coach Gee Abanilla believes the quarterfinal round is an altogether different ballgame where lower-ranked teams can suddenly turn things around, the reason he wants to see his team go all out to stop the dangerous Kings in the 7:30 p.m. game.
The top-seeded Petron needs only to win once over the No. 8 Kings to advance to the semifinals.
The freshman head coach acknowledged the Gin Kings are tired at this point, since the league’s most popular ball club has played three games in the last five days, including a 110-102 win over Talk ’N Text in their rubber match on Tuesday to claim the last ticket to the quarterfinals.
But Abanilla believes the Gin Kings never-say-die attitude is always something they need to be wary of.
“They (Gin Kings) have played a lot based on the number of games they played, but again, they are pitted against us naman na galing sa long rest,” said Abanilla.
“We have a lot of respect for the Ginebra organization and for coach Ato Agustin. We believe they’l be fighting all-out tomorrow.”
Ginebra needs only to looks back at its Commissioner’s Cup playoff run to convince itself that it can survive the Petron playoff.
In the mid-season conference featuring imports of unlimited height, Ginebra made it to the playoffs as seventh seed and overcame the twice-to-beat advantage of No. 2 seed Rain or Shine that boasts of 7-foot-3 import Bruno Sundov.
The Gin Kings advanced to the semifinals where they defeated the Tropang Texters before bowing to the Alaska Aces in the finals.
Japeth Aguilar returned to play five minutes against Talk N Text on Tuesday, tallying two points, one rebound and one blocked shot, and Ginebra coach Ato Agustin hopes the athletic big man can play more minutes and inspire the other players to deliver.
The 6’9” Aguilar has missed the team’s last six games prior to the Tuesday rubber match due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.