Dec 08, 2021

Despite depleted roster, Terrafirma raring to battle against Phoenix

TERRAFIRMA coach Johnedel Cardel is used to making do with the players he has.

Cardel must go through that experience again when his Dyip take on the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters Thursday at the start of their campaign in the PBA Governors Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

"Excited na makalaro ulit pero medyo tempered kasi kulang pa rin players namin," said Cardel on the eve of the match.

"Pero sanay na naman tayo ng ganoon so tingnan natin," added Cardel. "We've done well in our practices and tune-up games naman kahit wala sila."

Cardel was referring to the likes of Joshua Munzon, who is still in the US, and Justin Melton, who has been prevented by the league from playing until he gets vaccinated.

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Even Christian Balagasay remains doubtful due to the hairline fracture on his ankle that forced him to miss the entire Philippine Cup.

In contrast, Phoenix is all set to parade a full roster that now includes Sean Anthony and Sean Manganti, both acquired from NorthPort last month in exchange for a deal that mainly featured Vic Manuel. Manuel eventually went to San Miguel Beer in a separate trade.

Anthony is expected to come off the bench and would be under minutes restriction, however, since he still has to fully recover from the ankle surgery he went through following the Philippine Cup.

Still, Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins, Chris Banchero and Justin Chua, as well as import Paul Harris, are all fit and ready to lead the Fuel Masters and give coach Topex Robinson ample reason to be optimistic.

Cardel also has his hopes up, partly because of Terrafirma's showing in the Philippine Cup where it won only four games but three of those came consecutively and at the expense of SMB, Barangay Ginebra and Blackwater.

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"Naranasan na nila kung paano m?nalo and 'yung experience na iyon malaking bagay," noted Cardel. "Sana madala namin hanggang dito sa conference na ito and beyond."

Sure to help along Terrafirma's progression are its new acquisitions led by Alex Cabagnot, a nine-time champion who is sure to bring his savvy and winning attitude to his new teammates.

And then there's import Antonio Hester, described by Cardel as a "team player" who should solidify the Dyip's frontline.(NC)