THEY opened up their respective PBA Commissioner's Cup campaign on contrasting fashions, yet the
goal for B-MEG and Barako Bull remains the same: To get better.
That is why a good gauge of how far the two will go could be had Wednesday when they dispute the
mid-season tourney's early solo leadership at the Cuneta Astrodome.
For Llamados coach Tim Cone, a followup to their 96-93 victory over the Bolts last Friday would go a long way in not only boosting their morale.
"We're hoping for the win so we can establish some early momentum in the conference," said Cone.
Barako should prove Cone right and be a very tough nut, though.
The Energy lived up to their moniker by drubbing Alaska 98-78 also last Friday behind a balanced
attack led by Willie Miller and import DerMarr Johnson.
Miller scored 25 points on 11-for-14 field shooting and also had six rebounds and two assists in a mere 28 minutes of action while Johnson, a wiry 6-foot-9 who plays the wings, debuted with 19 pointsand eight boards.
Leo Najorda, Ronald Tubid and Don Allado each had 10 points and the likes of Mick Pennisi, Jondan Salvador and Chico Lanete provided quality minutes that helped spell the big difference.
"Barako has as much pure talent as any team in the league, plus they have an anomaly as an import, which makes them a tough matchup," noted Cone.
B-MEG has its own well-stocked arsenal led by Denzel Bowles, a wide-bodied 6-10 who wound up with 27 points and 11 rebounds that helped draw the defense and opened up the perimeter for the likes of James Yap and PJ Simon.
Yap and Simon combined for 28 points but it was Bowles hokking up most with Josh Ubriztondo (10
points, six assists) in the latter parts of the third period and most of the fourth that enabled
B-MEG to pull through.
“A lot of people talk about him for good reason,” said Cone of Bowles, who last saw action in
the Lithuanian leagues.
“Denzel played about 24 minutes a game in Lithuania, and he’s now playing 36 minutes a game
here. It will take some time for him to get used to it, but once he does he’ll be something
else,” added Cone.
The Llamados' offensive might, plus the fact his team and its five new additions in Tubid, Jimbo
Aquino, Lanete, Mark Andaya and Shawn Weinstein is admittedly "still a work in progress," make
Barako coach Junel Baculi reserved in his pre-game statements.
"We are still working on offensive chemistry," said Baculi. "We will be tested defensively versus B-MEG, a strong offensive team with a reliable import." (NC)