BEING at or near the bottom of the standings is something San Miguel Beer and Terrafirma envisioned themselves to be at this stage of the PBA Philippine Cup bubble in Pampanga.
Main reason both the Beermen and Dyip view their collision Monday at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Arena in Angeles City as gauge on whether at least some of the problems they've been facing have been addressed.
"Positive pa rin naman kami," said Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel on the eve of the match.
"Kaya lang, sa nakikita ko, 'yung timing pa rin. Hindi pa in sync. Sisikapin lang naming makuha 'yung timing, rhythm namin as a team. Kapag nakuha namin bukas... malamang magtuloy-tuloy na. Hopefully."
Much bigger is the problem of defending champion SMB.
Already without six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, still recovering from a shin injury he suffered last February, the Beermen must now do battle without Terrence Romeo.
The flashy guard dislocated his right shoulder early in the game against TNT last Friday and has already left the bubble for treatment in Manila, an exit that cannot be revoked under agreed-upon conference rules.
With no one able to consistently fill the void and the Tropang Giga displaying sharp form on both ends the Beermen lost that one, 88-107, their second straight defeat in the bubble after opening up the season with a 94-78 win over Magnolia Ang Pabansang Manok last March 8.
Still, SMB coach Leo Austria is confident his remaining charges should be adjusted well enough, a claim that should be tested in the Terrafirma game.
Dueling an SMB crew without Romeo is only a bit of welcome news for the team formerly known as Columbian, which has yet to win after two tries.
"Sabi ko sa mga bata, mga beterano iyan, mabilis makaka-adjust mga iyan," said Cardel.
"Na-view naman namin mga depensa ng San Miguel saka opensa nila. Plus, 'yung first two games namin, saan kami natalo. Na-tackle naman namin iyon, pati 'yung understanding ng players. 'Yung opensa namin nag-i-struggle, hindi kami maka-execute. Isang factor 'yung timing nga players, sa iba.
"Then yung bench ko kailangan mag-contribute din di lang sa opensa pati sa depensa," added Cardel.
"Counter na lang siguro namin, takbuhan sila. Kasi kapag tumatakbo kami nakaka-score kami. Hopefully, maka-execute kami bukas. 'Tsaka 'yung pasensiya sa opensa maging effective." (NC)