Winner of its past four games, Petron Blaze tries to go the extra mile as it shoots for its fifth straight win in the curtain raiser of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Boosters take on a Barako Bull squad aching to return from its previous setback.
The Boosters are in solo second place with a 4-1 card and look to get better behind the energy being provided by import Renaldo Balkman.
The NBA veteran has averaged impressive numbers of 27.2 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.2 blocks even as his overall play has made him the yardstick among the imports competing so far in the tournament.
Balkman’s energetic game likewise rubbed off on the rest of the Boosters, who have been drawing steady games lately from June Mar Fajardo, Jay Washington, Marcio Lassiter and Ronald Tubid.
With these four players stepping up, the Boosters were able to win big despite the absence of key players Alex Cabagnot, Chris Lutz, and veteran center/forward and two-time Most Valuable Player Danny Ildefonso.
Petron Blaze head coach Olsen Racela gave a timetable on the possible return of his banged up players, but is in no rush for their recovery with the way the other players have been playing lately.
“Si Alex, siguro mga next week. Chris Lutz will be ready mga three weeks pa while si Danny I, mga five months pa,” said Racela.
The Energy Colas, on the other hand, are coming off a 93-72 rout at the hands of Barangay Ginebra last Wednesday.
Interestingly, Rajko Toroman, the coaching consultant of Barako Bull, will be facing the team he guided at at the start of last conference before he was relieved from his position. But for the veteran international mentor, facing Petron isn’t something special.
“There’s no special preparation against Petron. They are playing good and we just had a bad game last time. It will be tough for us, but I believe that we will play much better,” added Toroman. (RJ)