Hell week starts | Inquirer Sports

Hell week starts

Teams with big playoff chances—and those with flickering hopes—open a demanding seven days to determine final eight in the crisis-hit Philippine Cup
/ 05:00 AM November 03, 2020

Roosevelt Adams and the Dyip hope to finally score a win. —PBA IMAGES

Terrafirma is still looking for its first win after five games inside the Philippine Basketball Association bubble, and though there may have been a lot who have already written off the Dyip after a lethargic Philippine Cup start, coach Johnedel Cardel isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.

Cardel insists there are still plenty of positive things to draw from those losses and that they have—in some ways—rebounded from similar limping starts out of the gates in the past.


“I told [the players] that this is the hand that we’re dealt, so we just have to embrace it,” he told the Inquirer on the eve of the team’s match against Phoenix Super LPG, the third game in a dizzying quadruple-header on Tuesday—one of five packed playdates the league hopes to stage hitch-free this time out so it can end the elimination round by Nov. 11 and hopefully, crown a champion later on.


“We have been in a worse predicament. There was one time we only won just one game. We still have six games left to play,” Cardel said, alluding to the tail end of the 2017 season. “And the other teams are struggling as well.”

Still, the Dyip are alone in the cellar and are the only winless team in the tournament, and safe to say, they cannot afford another loss if they hope to salvage something out of this experience as only the top eight squads in the 12-team field will make it past the eliminations.

Cardel could be talking with some optimism because his charges did drag formidable teams San Miguel Beer, NorthPort and Alaska to the distance before going down. But there are no points earned for losing—even by small margins—with the numbers on the win column the only one counting.

There will be a total of 26 games played in the next seven days, with some squads seeing action four times in six days. And this will definitely take its toll on anyone.

And just like Terrafirma, NorthPort (1-5), NLEX (2-5) and Magnolia (2-4)—three teams who all made the playoffs in last season’s Governors’ Cup— are at the bottom third of the standings and needing to string together win streaks to get into the playoff hunt.

And they are all hoping that four days’ worth of rest—a forced break because of new health measures put in place—has given them more than enough energy for that big push in pulling out wins in a grueling end to the classification phase.


Chris Ross and the Beermen aim to keep soaring. —PBA IMAGES

First to plunge into that torturous schedule are Blackwater and defending champion San Miguel Beer at 10 a.m., with the Beermen looking to win a fourth straight game and stay firmly inside the top four for a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

“The experience of the team is now prevailing,” coach Leo Austria, in a previous interview, said of his Beermen, who will be staking a three-game winning streak against the dangerous Elite, who are looking to snap a three-game slide and get back in the middle of the standings.

“I’m just happy that once they’re on the court, they become focused—on how to play games and win games,” Austria added.

“I have stocked up on Stresstabs,” Nash Racela of Blackwater said in jest, as he has already put behind the confusing week that passed, which included the scratching of his team’s games and the false-positive COVID-19 test result on one of his players.

NorthPort and pace-setting TNT (5-1) tangle in the 4 p.m. contest, while Ginebra (4-2) and Alaska (5-3) slug it out in the nightcap beginning 6:45 p.m.

“Sure, we may not be as deep as they are but we’re taking comfort in the fact that most of our losses weren’t blowouts,” Cardel said.

Terrafirma actually put up a decent fight against its last three foes: the Beermen, Batang Pier and Aces. And both the Dyip’s mentor and its exciting young star CJ Perez hope they finally wind up on the triumphant end should they figure in yet another close encounter.

“We just have to do better closing out matches,” Perez, last season’s Rookie of the Year, told the Inquirer. “We have to try being better in the fourth quarter.”

Cardel and Perez sure know what they need to do, because for them, this back-breaking week provides double the pressure for them.

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Because for all intents and purposes, it’s a miss-and-die scenario for the Dyip. And they’re the only ones with that task inside the bubble coming into hell week.

TAGS: PBA Philippine Cup, Philippine Basketball Association

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