GETTING back on track should be the overriding theme for three of the four teams seeing action in today’s PBA Philippine Cup matches at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.
Alaska and Terrafirma clash in the opener followed by the Ginebra-Rain or Shine collision.
The Aces, Kings and Elasto Painters are coming off losses and are all bidding to bounce back in a big way.
Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia summed it all up in his talk to the players after practice yesterday.
“I told the players that it’s a test of character, on how we can bounce back from a loss,” said Garcia, referring to his team’s 88-89 heartbreaker to Alaska last Thursday.
That loss cut short the E-Painters’ 3-0 start to the tournament, but Ginebra’s loss should be more stinging.
Seemingly unstoppable when they raced to a 4-0 start, the Gin Kings suddenly fell way short against Magnolia, which waylaid the perennial crowd favorites 102-92 last Sunday.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone has openly admitted his team’s immediate target is not only to make the eight-team quarterfinals but also to gain a top four slot, which carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage over a lower-ranked opponent in the next round.
Considering the Kings still have tough assignments in the likes of leader TNT, defending champion San Miguel Beer and Alaska coming up, getting back lost momentum is a must.
Rain or Shine had an initial chance to bounce back yesterday but its game against Blackwater was reset to a later date after an Elite player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Also reset was last night’s game between NorthPort and TNT, which played Blackwater last Thursday. The Tropang Giga and the rest of the Elite have also all tested negative, but would have to remain in quarantine as a precautionary measure.
So the E-Painters must shift their attention now to the Gin Kings and Garcia can’t stress enough one key factor his charges must focus on.
“We have to do a better job in the rebounding department,” said Garcia. “We lost by one point but got outrebounded by 20. So if we can do a better job on the boards then we can have a better chance to control the game.”
For Terrafirma, it’s a matter of getting untracked.
The Dyip are eyeing their first win in the bubble after being denied in their first four games but would only get that if they solve some nagging problems.
CJ Perez has flashed the form that netted him last year’s best rookie award and scoring title, currently scoring a tournament-best average of 25.25 ppg. But the other Terrafirma players have failed to provide the much-needed support, especially on the defensive end.
Now comes Alaska, which has Vic Manuel as acknowledged main offensive leader but has the likes of Jeron teng, Mike Digregorio, Abu Tratter and even rookie Barkley Ebona ready to step up.