FOLLOWING Alaska’s breakthrough win, coach Jeffrey Cariaso is now optimistic on his team’s continued rise from the cellar.
But such hopefulness was expressed in a guarded way, because up next for the Aces are the rampaging TNT KaTropa today in the PBA Governors Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Blackwater also hopes to use the momentum gained from its latest win when it collides with Meralco in the nightcap.
A second straight win by the Elite will jack their record to an even 3-3 and push them into a tie for fifth with idle Columbian and Magnolia.
But the Bolts are raring to bounce back from a 113-116 loss to TNT last Saturday, when the former blew as much as a 19-point lead.
Meralco is sure to have learned its lesson from that bitter experience and has prepared enough to pull off its fourth win against two defeats.
“We would have to be at our best again against a very good team like Meralco,” said Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan.
“Ang dagdag-hirap lang dito, we have less than 24 hours to do a quick turnaround and I just hope it would be enough,” Dimaunahan added.
Dimaunahan spoke shortly after the Elite notched a 95-89 victory over defending champion Magnolia last Wednesday, when the Hotshots played minus Romeo Travis.
It also didn’t hurt that Dimaunahan, his staff and management also decided on having Marqus Blakely finish out the rest of the tournament and let go of original choice Aaron Fuller.
Meralco has Allen Durham to negate and even surpass Blakely’s efforts, however.
The two-time Best Import winner has been averaging 29.60 points, 6.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds and, together with Raymond Almazan (15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.40 blocks) spearhead a formidable Bolts frontline.
Basically, Alaska has the same problem with TNT.
KJ McDaniels and Troy Rosario have been a lethal combination for the KaTropa and, together with Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro, form a solid core that propelled them to six straight wins.
Despite being assured of the first seat in the eight-team quarterfinals, TNT has shown little signs of stopping with coach Bong Ravena still emphasizing the need to improve on defense.