BARAKO Bull head coach Junel Baculi admitted his team is far from competitive form following a 103-98 loss to Meralco in a tune-up game between the two teams Wednesday at the Meralco gym.
Baculi noted his big men, especially Doug Kramer and new acquisition Enrico Villanueva, botched several attempts under the basket.
The 6-foot-5 Villanueva, recently acquired from Ginebra in a trade, showed flashes of brilliance in the early stretch of the third period, but more often failed to get back quick enough on defense.
Kramer meantime, settled for jumpers even though Meralco didn’t have veteran center Asi Taulava’s intimidating presence inside.
“We really need to work on our stamina. Kitang-kita naman sa laro na hirap na kami sa dulo,” said Baculi, whose team obviously is still in search of a two-guard scorer to compensate for the loss of two-time MVP Willie Miller in the trade that paved the way for Villanueva's return to Barako Bull.
While the Energy had veterans Ronald Tubid and Sunday Salvacion as well as recently acquired Roger Yap to rotate on the two spot, Baculi admitted the three players are not in the same mold as the prolific 35-year-old Miller.
“Not to demean their talent, pero siyempre, iba talaga yung nagagawa ni Miller sa offense. Hopefully, management can come up with a good trade move in the coming days para ma-compensate namin yung pagkawala ni Willie. Kasi sa front court, wala na naman kaming problema dahil nandiyan na si Rico to help Doug,” added Baculi.
Barako posted an overall win-loss record of 18-24 this past season. The Energy placed eighth overall during the Philippine Cup, but managed to make it to the semifinals of Commissioner’s Cup, where they stretched Talk ‘N Text to a deciding Game Seven in the semifinals.