The Boosters battle the Express in the 7:15 p.m. main game, just after Powerade clashes with Derby Ace at 5.
Petron is coming off a 105-100 loss from Meralco last Sunday, and colliding with the Express—who have former San Miguel regulars Dondon Hontiveros, Dorian Pena and Danny Seigle—won’t be a walk in the park by any means.
Though the Express absorbed a 116-94 loss to league-leader Rain or Shine, Air21 showed some form of formidability in that game and could prove to be a tough nut to crack.
The Blaze have brought in a new import in former Southern Mississippi University standout Jeremy Wise.
An NBA D-League veteran with the Bakers Field Jam, Wise takes over from the ineffective Ricky Harris, who scored just eight points in 26 minutes after making just 1-of-9 attempts from beyond three-point zone.
Wise will be tested right in his first game against Alpha Bangura, the explosive Air21 import, and the physical Express’ defense anchored on guards Wynne Arboleda, Leo Avenido and Carlo Sharma.
Seigle and Hontiveros have taken over local scoring for the Express. The duo combined for 31 points against the Elasto Painters, with Seigle enjoying a rejuvenation of sorts as far as his playing time is concerned.
After playing sparingly for the Beermen because of their rock-solid roster, Seigle is on the floor more often than not for the Express since his transfer in the last conference.
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-7 shooting forward played for 32 minutes, while Hontiveros was there for a minute longer.
Jay Washington will continue to lead the Boosters, with the former MVP candidate being the focal point of their game on both ends.
In a loss to Meralco, Washington fired 18 points and had 10 rebounds and two assists in 38 minutes, the most for the team. Alex Cabagnot will again quarterback their offense.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who was acquired by the Boosters as part of that deal that sent Seigle and Co. to Air21, also had a respectable outing with 16 points and seven boards.
Nonoy Baclao, the top overall rookie pick, is the one who’s struggling.
The 6-foot-7 defense specialist was scoreless in five minutes against the B-Boys, looking lost in the Petron rotation, unlike Al-Hussaini who has been in the flow ever since arriving.
Derby Ace and Powerade are also smarting from lopsided losses and all eyes will be on their imports as they try to carry their respective squads to a win.
Chris Porter did okay in his first game back in the PBA after shooting 38 points that went with 16 rebounds, but the former Barangay Ginebra import got minimal help from his locals with only Rob Reyes scoring in twin digits with 10 in a 92-80 loss to the Gin Kings.
Gary David, who led all locals in scoring in the first two conferences with more than 22 points a contest, is still expected to be out of action for the Tigers with a broken left hand, making it a necessity for the other locals to step up and give Porter a hand.
David sustained the fracture in a practice game against Barangay Ginebra a couple of weeks ago after an inadvertent hack coming from rookie John Wilson.
His absence has left a definite void in the Powerade offense and the Tigers would have to find a remedy to that quickly especially with the conference just scheduling eight elimination round games per team.