With the rate Petron Blaze is playing, it looks like the Boosters are poised for a first Finals appearance this season
The Boosters have been spectacular in their last 10 games.
They showed poise, character and resilience in winning their last 10 games, dating back to their single round eliminations and through the quarterfinals.
Obviously, with the talent roster of Petron, it’s hard to imagine this team underperform during the first two conferences, showing up with just a pair of early playoff exits during the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup.
Yet, after San Miguel Corp. management decided to move erstwhile Petron coach Olsen Racela to San Mig Coffee to serve as one of Tim Cone’s assistants, Abanilla came at the coaching helm for the first time after serving for about a decade as a deputy in FedEx, Red Bull and San Miguel/Petron.
With a 1-0 lead, Petron is obviously the clear favorite in its race-to-three wins semifinal series versus Rain or Shine, since the Boosters’ talented roster is now showing chemistry and confidence.
And while Abanilla may just be in his first conference as Petron’s head coach, he’s not alone in preparing the game plan versus the multi-titled Rain or Shine mentor Yeng Guiao.
He’s got Koy Banal as one of his assistants to back him up, along with Leo Austria, who are both veteran coaches in college and have solid grasp of pro basketball coaching.
Add to that American Todd Purves, who now serves as Petron’s team consultant.
Banal has been a long time assistant in San Mig/B-Meg/Purefoods, before being shipped to Petron in-between conference break as part of the San Miguel Corp.’s coaching rigodon.
On the other hand, Austria steered the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League championship last June before joining the Petron coaching staff while Purves is coming off back-to-back ABL Finals appearance and one league title with the Indonesia Warriors before joining Petron a few months ago.
Overall though, Arwind Santos best sums up the team’s battle cry in the season-ending conference.
“Di ko naman iniisip yun (MVP) eh. Mas naka-focus kami sa goal ng team,” said the 6’4″ Santos, who is currently leading the MVP statistical race this season.
For Santos and the Boosters, the team’s goal is far more important than any individual goals.
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