Opening day winners B-MEG and Barako Bull go for the early lead as they clash Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome. Game time is set for 5:15 p.m.
The Llamados and the Energy are coming off contrasting victories.
B-MEG outlasted the Meralco Bolts, 96-93, behind a strong showing from import Denzel Bowles, who debuted with 27 points and 11 rebounds.
The Energy, on the other hand, had a much easier time in disposing of the Alaska Aces, 98-78, as two-time Most Valuable Player Willie Miller exploded for 25 points.
Miller is expected to engage in a scoring duel with fellow two-time MVP James Yap. The Llamados’ superstar guard scored 18 points in his team’s victory.
Having Bowles, Yap and the rest of the team on the same page has made B-MEG coach Tim Cone satisfied, but they will have their hands full against the Energy, whose wing position is expected to create a lot of problems, according to the multi-titled bench tactician.
“They have a first-round NBA veteran import in DerMarr Johnson, who is likely to pose a lot of problems for different teams,” said Cone. “You cannot put an import to guard him because he plays from the outside. This means we have a lot of adjustments to make and shuffle our line up a bit more when we go up against them. DerMarr and Willie Miller easily give Barako a 1-2 threat from the perimeter.”
For Barako Bull coach Junel Baculi, it will require his team playing good defense for the entire 48 minutes of the game for them to have a shot at beating B-MEG.
“This is an old phrase, but defense is the key to beating B-MEG. We were able to limit Alaska to 78 points in our last win, but we believe we cannot do that against B-MEG. Still, you have to give your best effort defensively and that would be the biggest test for our resolve,” added Baculi.
Baculi said Johnson admitted having a lackluster performance in his debut game.
“He was disappointed on himself. In fact, he told me that those three shots which he missed, he can make them even in his sleep,” said Baculi.
The Petron Blaze Boosters and Meralco Bolts, two teams that suffered tough setbacks in their first assignments, slug it out in the main game at 7:30 p.m.
The Boosters may have found a gem of an import in NBA veteran Nick Fazekas, who debuted with 37 points and 18 rebounds against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. Fazekas hit a clutch triple late in the game to tie the count, but Jayjay Helterbrand knocked down a jumper at the buzzer to lift the Gin Kings to an 84-82 win last Sunday.
The Bolts will rely on import Jarrid Famous and Mac Cardona, who combined for 56 points against B-MEG in their first game.