Petron, Barako collide for lead
Petron Blaze and Barako Bull slug it out for the solo lead today in the PBA Governors’ Cup with the winner taking a huge headstart in the race for a Top Four berth in the season-ending conference’s playoffs.
Gametime is 5:15 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, and based on how they have overpowered their last four foes, the Boosters are the hands-down favorites to nail a fifth straight win.
But Barako Bull is no pushover, especially with a very efficient import in Mike Singletary and the biggest little surprise package of the tournament thus far, the 5-foot-6 point guard Emman Monfort.
The former Ateneo backup guard in the UAAP will be coming off his career scoring game and it would be interesting to see how he handles the pressure that a grizzled veteran like Alex Cabagnot or even bigger Fil-Ams, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz, could dish out.
Meanwhile, Alaska and Meralco go for back-to-back wins later at 7:30 p.m., with the Aces seeking to carve out a repeat of their thrilling win over Barangay Ginebra after just a day’s rest.
The top two teams after the single round robin will earn twice-to-beat privileges in the quarterfinals against the No. 7 and No. 8 teams. The other pairings will be No. 3 against No. 6 and No. 4 against No. 5 in separate best-of-three series for seats in the Final Four.
Singletary and Monfort have been the biggest reasons why the Energy are on a tear, and coach Rajko Toroman would need to find a way for his most productive stars to break through the Petron defense.
June Mar Fajardo, the 6-foot-9 rookie from Cebu, could play a pivotal role for Petron because, other than the burly Dorian Peña, the Energy have no one else to match up against him inside the paint.
Arwind Santos could also prove to be a matchup problem for Toroman.
Against Barangay Ginebra last week, Monfort exploded for 25 points even with LA Tenorio and Jay-Jay Helterbrand alternating on him for most of the night.
Petron coach Gee Abanilla can also opt to put Dennis Miranda on Monfort to soften him up a bit, or even Ronald Tubid if the peppery Iloilo native proves to be slippery for Miranda or Cabagnot.
“Monfort is playing the best way a point guard can play,” Toroman said of his little general after the win over the Kings. “He is showing that he belongs in this league.”