PETRON tries to make it three in a row when in battles skidding Meralco in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Boosters have bounced back from a heart-breaking loss on opening night, scoring huge back-to-back wins to gain a share of second spot with Barako Bull and Globalport. Now coach Olsen Racela’s men try to close in on idle leader Alaska (3-0) when they battle the Bolts in the 7:30 p.m. match.
While the Boosters' average winning margin was 20 points against defending champion San Mig Coffee Mixers (98-73) and Barangay Ginebra Kings (105-90), Racela warned his wards of the tough grind ahead.
“Still a long way after two wins. It’s a process but we’re getting there. Nagkakakumpiyansa kami ngayon with the way we’re playing and with the wins,” Racela said.
“Once we go through adversity, that’s where we see gaano ka-close yung team. Right now, we’re winning. And matagal pa yung laban,” explained the Petron rookie coach.
Import Renaldo Balkman has been the catalyst for the Boosters’ fine start this conference, averaging 28.3 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.6 steals in 38.6 minutes.
Balkman was at his best against Barangay Ginebra, coming up with a game-high 34 points.
The 6-foot-8 Balkman, an NBA veteran who once played for the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks, has been tipped this early to win the Best Import award, but his shot response was, “there’s no I in team.”
Balkman and the Boosters will be facing a Bolts squad that has dropped its last two outings after pulling off a 99-92 upset win against Talk ’N Text in its debut.
Meralco import Eric Dawson has been doing it all for the Bolts with averages of 25 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 40 minutes of play.
But he’ll be needing a lot of support from the locals, particularly Mac-mac Cardona, Ronjay Buenafe and even Chris Ross, who has taken over the starting point guard chores since Sol Mercado was traded to Globalport before the Commissioner’s Cup opened.