All eyes will be on the ‘Battle of the Guards’ as GlobalPort, led by the prized duo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle, takes on Star, led by veteran Paul Lee and rookie Jiovani Jalalon, on Friday night in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier, fresh from an impressive 97-75 win over the Mahindra Floodbuster last week, are hoping to sustain their renewed confidence under new coach Franz Pumaren in their 7 p.m. showdown with the Hotshots, who are eager to bounce back from an 88-96 loss to defending back-to-back champion San Miguel Beer in the opener.
After doing a commendable job in holding his ground against the Beermen’s crafty guards Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, the 24-year-old Jalalon should be in for another tough test in the mold of two-time scoring champion Romeo and Pringle, arguably the best scoring backcourt tandem in the pro league today.
And Jalalon knows he, along with Lee and fellow Star guards Mark Barroca, PJ Simon and Justin Melton, should have to get the job done defensively.
“Sobrang nakaka-excite kasi ‘yan ‘yung number 1 scoring duo,” the former Arellano U star told FOX Sports in a phone interview. “Kaya magpo-focus na lang kami sa ipagagawa nila coach (Chito Victolero) lalo sa depensa. Doon talaga kami mas naka-focus ngayon.”
Protecting the ball better should also be given by the Hotshots with utmost importance. Against San Miguel Beer, Star turned the ball over 30 times and allowed its rivals to score 29 points off those miscues.
“Kailangan namin magkaroon ng better communication sa loob,” stressed Jalalon, who committed three errors on his debut game.
“Sa 4th quarter marami kaming errors, so ‘yun ang kailangan naming iwasan.”
Putting the clamps down on Romeo and Pringle, who combined for 45 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds the last time out, should make the Hotshots’ task more daunting.
Jalalon, however, is unfazed. “Kung mai-stop namin sila Terrence and Pringle, magiging malaki ang tsansa naming manalo sa kanila,” he said.
For Pumaren, the Batang Pier should only get better despite their impressive opening-game victory.
“We’re still groping for form. We’re still searching and adjusting to the new system. Right now, its still a long way. This is an entirely new GlobalPort team,” he said, refusing to be swayed with the Batang Pier’s recent showing. – Jerome Lagunzad
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