MANILA, Philippines – The Petron Blaze Boosters hope to escape the upset axe when they face off against the Barako Bull Energy Cola in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinals series in the PBA Philippine Cup Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Barako has pulled the rug out from under Petron once already this conference, beating the Blaze Boosters, 92-88, last January 8.
Although they hold a win over Petron, Barako head coach Bong Ramos acknowledged that they are the underdogs in the series.
“It’s a David and Goliath match-up,” said Ramos in a PBA.ph report. “We are looking forward to the challenge of creating another upset. It won’t be easy going up against a powerhouse like Petron, but I’d like to think we have the heart for it.” [http://pba.inquirer.net/39863/boosters-tackle-upset-minded-energy]
Petron stumbled in the second half of the elimination round after the early part of the conference at the top of the league standings, but head coach Gee Abanilla is counting on his charges to round into peak form against Barako.
“For us, it’s important to build on our last game,” said Abanilla, referring to their 96-87 win over Meralco last Saturday. “We have to consistently raise our level of play and be ready for the quarterfinal atmosphere against Barako.”
“Doing things right, being good at it and continually improving every single game is very important for us if we want to be successful as a team,” he said.
Petron won their first meeting against Barako, 96-90, and Tuesday’s game is expected to be another close affair as well.
The Blaze Boosters are welcoming back swingman Marcio Lassiter, who did not play in their game against Meralco to attend his grandmother’s wake in the United States. Center JunMar Fajardo is also returning to top shape after missing a few games due to injury.
Barako will rely on veterans Dorian Pena and Mick Pennisi to limit Fajardo.
Game time is at 5:45 p.m.