Petron Blaze opened the 39th PBA season with a relatively easy 97-87 dumping of the new-look Globalport five. Reigning MVP Arwind Santos though refuses to take any team lightly, especially since the Boosters are opening their all-Filipino campaign with injuries to key players.
Alex Cabagnot, the team’s starting playmaker is still out for several weeks due to a tear on his plantar fascia. while backup point guard Chico Lanete is still nursing a hamstring injury. Veteran guard/forward Ronald Tubid also underwent an arthroscopic surgery, which would require him to sit out for the next five to six weeks.
But despite starting the brand new season with injuries, Santos said this is not the time to panic. Instead, the Boosters, particularly the veterans, need to work together as one in order to avoid another “Petronovela” episode.
“Kaming mga beterano, pipilitin naming maging buo kami. Ang importante eh mag-good start kami sa conference,” Santos said, who contributed 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in helping Petron chalk up its first win for the PLDT myDSL-Philippine Cup.
Three of Petron’s next four assignments are tipped as heavyweights for the all-Filipino conference starting with three-time defending champion Talk ‘N Text on Saturday, followed by San Mig Coffee next Wednesday.
Petron then takes on Barako Bull on December 4, followed by Alaska on Dec. 7.
One thing is clear. There won’t be easy games for the Boosters, which is why the 6’4″ Santos said there is no point of being complacent even though they are still being tipped as one of the favorites to crowd the Tropang Texters for the league title this conference.
Given the momentum Petron had from the season-ending Governors Cup, which saw the Boosters finish second behind champion San Mig Coffee, the boys of coach Gee Abanilla have developed a certain bond, which would be the key to helping them weather this early storm for the new season.