ALDRIN Morante found himself in a difficult situation as pinch-hitting coach on Friday night.
With the Bacoor Strikers staring at back-to-back losses in the MPBL Lakan Season, there was much pressure on the shoulders of Morante to win while temporarily taking over the coaching reins from Chris Gavina, who is currently with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the PBA where he serves as an assistant coach.
“Mas medyo pressure ng konti. Kailangan talaga naming manalo kasi mahirap kapag natatluhan kami eh. Sobrang bigat na. Lalayo at lalayo yung Davao sa standings. Kasi yung standings, hindi naman ganun kalayo talaga. Mahirap kung matalo. Kailangan every single game kailangang maipanalo,” Morante told FOX Sports Philippines.
Morante and the embattled Strikers got their acts together in the fourth period and regained their second wind before pulling the rug from under the Navotas Clutch, 87-78, at the Olivarez Sports Complex.
Michael Cañete led the way with 22 points while Nick Demusis contributed 20 as Bacoor’s display of balance firepower and extra effort on the defensive end was enough to snap back-to-back losses and put the team back on the winning track.
Following the win, the Strikers improved their win-loss record to 16-5, just one and a half game behind southern division leader Davao Occidental.
Chris Sumalinog produced 12 markers while RJ Ramirez had 10 for the Strikers, whose bench production proved to be too much against the Cutch. Bacoor’s bench players scored 33, 30 points more than its rival.
But it’s not just the Strikers’ superb firepower which was very much evident despite the absence of reigning MVP Gab Banal, who is still recovering from a bout with dengue.
The Strikers’ defense also worked double time as they forced the Clutch to commit 20 turnovers and capitalized on them by coming away with 25 points from those miscues.