PBA- How close the new-look Tigers have pulled together should be tested to the full against a Shopinas team with the same concerns about solidarity but also not lacking in determination.
“My players are pretty much excited,” said rookie coach Franz Pumaren, who has assembled a bunch of players from the team that has taken a leave in the last two conferences before being bought by Air21 owner Bert Lina.
“Majority of them feel like they are rookies again because in their previous teams they hardly played,” added Pumaren.
Former Energy Boosters Ogie Menor, Khazim Mirza, Paolo Hubalde and Jojo Duncil form the core, with Pumaren throwing in Ren-Ren Ritualo, RJ Jazul, Elmer Espiritu, Vaughn Canta to the mix along with rookies Mark Canlas, Brian Ilad and Magi King Sison. For good measure, also added was center Homer Se, who last saw action in the league in 2009.
“We’ll see if the chemistry is already there,” said Pumaren.
THE answer to whether JV Casio can measure up to the bar raised by Paul Lee may have to wait a little longer.
The top overall pick in the PBA Rookie Draft is sitting out Wednesday’s game, when the Tigers take on relative newcomer Shopinas.com in the Philippine Cup’s resumption at the Cuneta Astrodome.
According to coach Bo Perasol and Casio’s agent, Charlie Dy, the national team’s star point guard is resting a sore left knee that makes him “doubtful” for the game against the Clickers, the crew formerly known as Barako Bull.
“It’s actually called patellar femoral syndrome,” offered Dy on what is plaguing the 25-year-old who shone for the Nationals in several international stints, most recently the Jones Cup and FIBA-Asia tilts.
“In short, bugbog ang tuhod. Walang rest kasi,” Dy added.
Picked a notch lower than Casio, Lee was scintillating in his debut by winding up with 21 points, eight assists and five rebounds in Rain or Shine’s 94-93 squeaker over Barangay Ginebra in last Sunday’s season-opener.
The wait will be stretched a little while longer.
“(Famed orthopedic) Dr. (Raul) Canlas wants him rested muna bago sumabak ulit,” bared Dy. “He (Casio) was told to rest three weeks. Nakaka-one week na siya so two more weeks.”
Wingman Marcio Lassiter, also a national player chosen by Powerade at No. 4 in the same draft last August, is ready to suit up, Perasol added.
Even with Casio on the sidelines, however, the Tigers are eager to pick from where they left off in the last conference, when they missed out on a semifinals seat only due to an inferior quotient.
“We are determined to change our fortunes this time,” said Perasol. “It’s going to take some time to achieve cohesion with all our new acquisitions. But, we are going to take the right steps toward our goal.”
In a determined bid to make up for so-so performances in recent seasons, the Tigers have also acquired Joshua Vanlandingham and Doug Kramer, as well as veterans Romel Adducul and Alex Crisano and rookies James Martinez and Rudy Lingganay to support usual go-to guy Gary David.