AFTER finally ending a very long slide, Air21's appetite has now been whetted.
Yet Express coach Franz Pumaren wants his charges to not get too ahead of themselves when they take on Petron Blaze Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Big test for us," was how Pumaren described the match where only one team will emerge with a second straight win.
Pumaren has ample reason to be cautious about his charges going into the game thinking too far
Air21 opened up its campaign in the mid-season tourney with a 97-88 victory over Barako Bull lastFeb. 19, quite a feat for the team formerly known as Shopinas.com which debuted in the league by losing all its 14 games in the Philippine Cup.
Petron should be a bigger stumbling block, however, as the Boosters are themselves coming off a
breakthrough 84-77 victory over erstwhile unbeaten B-MEG.
"They played really well last game and they are quite comfortable already with their import," noted Pumaren.
Indeed, Petron comes into Friday's game with a steely resolve to score a fitting followup to the win that snapped its own skid at two.
"Ganado ang mga bata at handang-handa na kami para sa laro," related Boosters coach Ato Agustin.
The biggest key should be how each team's locals rally behind their respective reinforcement.
Nick Fazekas was his usual steady self with 23 points and 16 rebounds against B-MEG, but the
homegrown talents did their part with Joseph Yeo, Alex Cabagnot, Denok Miranda and Arwind Santos
coming up with at least 10 points each. In Petron's first two games, only Cabagnot and/or Lutz
managed to score in double digits.
"Basta patuloy na mag-contribute ang locals malaki ang tsansa namin," said Agustin.
Pumaren wants the same from his charges, like they did in their first game.
Former Smart-Gilas reinforcement Marcus Douthit celebrated his return to local shores with 16
points, 15 rebounds and five assists while former Meralco Bolts Nelbert Omolon and Mark Isip, plus RJ jazul and James Sena, chipped in their own significant contributions against the Energy.
"In order for us to compete with them it should be a collective effort on our part," said Pumaren. "We'll try to make it a low scoring game." (nc)