Struggling to find form the whole conference and with the injury bug besetting the team, Brgy. Ginebra finds themselves with another chance to advance into the quarterfinal round as they go head-to-head with Phoenix for the eighth and last spot following NorthPort’s lopsided win over Alaska on Thursday.
The winner of the do-or-die match will gain the right to face the top-seeded TNT Tropang Giga which holds a twice-to-beat advantage in the opening stage of the playoffs.
The crowd darlings’ struggles this conference is evident in their win-loss pattern. They do not have any consecutive victories and have experienced losing two games in a row twice.
The good thing, however, is that they are facing a team that is on the same boat as they are right now.
The Fuel Masters lost their final two games and have been a different team since the departure of Calvin Abueva.
Ironically, the two teams battling for their lives were the top two teams in last season’s PBA Bubble after the elimination round.
The arrival of Christian Standhardinger was supposed to provide a lift for the defending champions but the outcome has been far from expectations. Still, there’s an opportunity to barge into the next round sans high-leaping forward Japeth Aguilar and do-it-all guard Scottie Thompson and revive the team’s mission for a third straight PBA crown. The team is fighting as well to keep its streak of 38 consecutive conferences of advancing past the elimination round alive.
The Tim Cone-mentored squad has struggled to put the ball in the hole as they are the third worst in scoring with 83.1 points per contest, just behind Rain or Shine (77.4) and winless Blackwater (79.4). They are coming off a poor showing in their crucial match last Thursday against Meralco while the Fuel Masters are well-rested and are eager to avenge their heart-breaking loss in the elimination round.