Mahindra and Meralco will try to bounce back from previous losses when they face separate opponents today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governor’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
After suffering their first defeat in five games, the Enforcers will battle the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Road Warriors in the first game at 4:15 p.m. while the Bolts will be meeting the Blackwater Elite in the second game at 7 p.m.
After losing to the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters, 94-100, on Friday, Mahindra coach Chris Gavina said that they need to regain their winning formula.
“We played through the worst and played through our best. But after absorbing your first loss, there is nothing you can do but get back to where you start winning. We have to move forward,” Gavina told The Manila Times via phone interview.
“We have to be very disciplined in our defense and the way we execute our offense,” he said.
Mahindra import James White in his fighting form, led his team with 24 points during their last game. He is expected to lead his squad anew against the Road Warriors with the help of Nino Canaleta and Aldrech Ramos.
Paolo Taha, Mike DiGregorio, Bradwyn Guinto, Nards Pinto, Mark Yee, Keith Agovida and Chito Jaime are also expected to step up for the Enforcers, who are sharing the second spot with reigning champion San Miguel Beer that is also carrying a 4-1 win-loss record.
The Road Warriors, coming off an 88-85 win over the struggling Star Hotshots also on Friday; will rely on the aggressive play of import Henry Bill Walker with support from Paul Asi Taulava, Jonas Villanueva, Kevin Alas and Sean Anthony.
“Mahindra had been playing well under a new coach and they have a good import. We have to match up their energy and effort also if we want to upset them,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez through a text message.
“Mahindra is the best team in field goal percentage that’s why we have to challenge really hard their shots so they will miss it and we’ll have to battle on the rebounds. We have to play solid on defense and offense to give our team a chance to win,” Fernandez stressed.
The Bolts, with a 3-3 card, will be gunning for their fourth win. They lost to GlobalPort, 123-126, in double overtime on Sunday.
“We just need to win tomorrow,” Meralco coach Norman Black told The Manila Times via text message. “Coming off a tough loss, it is important we get off to a good start and sustain it. We are hoping (Allen) Durham will continue his solid play but we need the locals to be on top of their game.”
Black is hopeful that veteran Jimmy Alapag, Bryan Faundo, Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge, Baser Amer and Chris Newsome will be in good playing form against the Elite.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac remains optimistic despite his key players including John Paul Erram nursing injuries.
“Same attitude, same approach,” said Isaac. “We cannot avoid those injuries but I’m still confident my players will play their best in the remaining games. JP Erram is out for the season.”
Blackwater lost the 6’7 center Erram when he injured his anterior cruciate ligament in their loss to Talk ‘N Text on Saturday. Veteran playmaker Mike Cortez also suffered a calf injury and expected to miss a few games.
Elite import Eric Dawson didn’t finish the game because of back spasm. “I still don’t know if he’ll suit up on Wednesday but we will evaluate him. If he misses more games, we’ll decide if we’re going to replace him.”
Reil Cervantes and newly signed Dennis Miranda will lead Blackwater as the team tries to improve its 1-4 win-loss record.