NORTHPORT and NLEX have fallen into a deep hole neither pictured themselves to be going into the PBA Philippine Cup bubble.
But there are enough games left for the Batang Pier and Road Warriors to dig themselves out, starting with their collision today at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.
A win would cut short the protagonists’ three-game slides and would certainly spur them on in their remaining outings in the 11-game eliminations.
Each has a doubtful starter, with NorthPort’s Kevin Ferrer nursing a swollen foot and NLEX’s Jericho Cruz a sprained ankle that forced them to miss their last game.
Still, both teams have enough tools left to get the job done, with more of the focus on those aching to bounce back from so-so performances their last time out.
One is Christian Standhardinger, who averaged 25.5 points in NorthPort’s first two games but only had 13 points on 5-of-18 field shooting in a 68-70 loss to Rain or Shine last Sunday.
JR Quinahan is also expected to atone for his dismal 2-of-11 shooting and measly five points in an 88-98 loss to Blackwater last Saturday. Prior to that game, he was good for 21 points an outing.
The nightcap has unbeaten Ginebra eyeing to use Phoenix Super LPG as stepping stone to join idle TNT at the top with a fourth straight win.
The Fuel Masters were dealt a 110-91 spanking by the Tropang Giga last Monday, but coach Topex Robinson said the loss taught his team some lessons which they could use against the Kings.
“Unang-una, it (loss to TNT) kept us grounded,” said Robinson on the eve of the game.
“Also, nakita namin the team we could become,” added Robinson. “We played TNT, one of the top teams along with Ginebra. We’ve learned we need to bring in our A-game for 48 minutes for us to have a chance to compete.”
Even before that loss to TNT Ginebra coach Tim Cone has already taken keen notice of Phoenix.
“Outside of TNT they really look like the best team,” Cone said of the Fuel Masters following his own side’s 105-91 win over Meralco last Sunday.
“They’re a complete team, well-coached,” added Cone.
Robinson simply wants his team to continue to improve, be better and live up to such observations.
“Though it (TNT game) didn’t favor us in the end, sa amin nakakuha kami nu’ng mga puwede naming ma-carry over into the Ginebra game,” said Robinson.
“That’s a good sign, that if we play our cards right we could have been up by 15 points,” added Robinson.
“We know our capabilities. How to put those lessons to our advantage, iyun ang challenge sa amin.”