BEING new to the PBA, Columbian import Khapri Alston is allowed to commit a couple of missteps. But not more.
Definitely not when the Dyip need him to be at his best when they battle the NorthPort Batang Pier tonight in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Surging TNT tries to regain a share of the lead when it collides with Phoenix Pulse in the nightcap.
The KaTropa are gunning for their third win in as many games that will draw them level with idle leader NLEX while the Fuel Masters are eyeing a fitting follow-up to their 103-101 shocker over Ginebra last Saturday and improve to 2-2.
TNT is ready for any surprise, spurred on by its own mission.
“We need to win as many as we can,” KaTropa coach Bong Ravena said after a 103-91 win over Rain or Shine also last Saturday.
“Kailangan samantalahin namin,” added Ravena. “Pahirap ng pahirap ‘yung mga games namin.”
The NorthPort-Columbian match should garner an equal share of the limelight since both teams are aiming to get back on track after being derailed the last time out.
The well-rested Dyip are raring to bounce back from a 90-96 loss to Rain or Shine two Sundays ago. Ditto for the Batang Pier, who are coming off an 80-96 drubbing from defending champion Magnolia last Friday.
“Siyempre, hindi naman sila ganoon kadaling talunin. Malakas na team iyung NorthPort,” said Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel.
One major key should be how Alston fares this time around after not making much difference in the game against the Elasto Painters. He had 23 points and 15 rebounds versus Rain or Shine, but those were way below his 38-22 debut in a 117-110 win over Alaska.
“Quick five fouls agad siya kaya hindi siya naging big factor. Malaking bagay iyon,” said Cardel.
“Kaya sabi ko sa kanya, ‘You have to control yourself dahil iyung tawagan ganyan na ‘yun.
You have to adjust. Kung hindi mo na kailangang foul-in, huwag na. We need more minutes from you inside the court para manalo.’”
Cardel also pointed out that it is not just Alston alone, insisting his perimeter shooters must complement their import’s inside game.
“Their decision-making is crucial,” said Cardel. “Hindi baleng bad shots basta pumasok. If not, then it could cost the whole team.”
That should be easier said than done, considering NorthPort has all the tools, led by import Mychal Ammons and Robert Bolick, who are both bristling to do their own bounce-back from subpar performances.
Magnolia’s defense obviously distracted Ammons and his frustrations were compounded by what he felt were some questionable calls and non-calls, resulting in him just posting 18 points, seven below what he tallied in a 99-94 win over Rain or Shine also last Sept. 20.