By WAYLON GALVEZ
“I just laugh at it when somebody tells me that we made it to the semis because of Petron’s a strong line-up. I don’t think so,” Agustin said in Filipino during team practice yesterday at the RFM gym in Mandaluyong City.
Agustin said the Boosters made this far without three key players – forward Jay Washington, sophomore center Rabeh Al-Hussaini and veteran guard Dondon Hontiveros who are all recovering from injuries.
All three won’t be available in the playoffs which would be the least of Agustin’s concern.
The Petron coach has been getting solid contributions from Rob Reyes, a free agent who was signed prior to the season, Carlo Sharma, Joseph Yeo, comebacking Lordy Tugade and even rookie Chris Lutz.
That made life easier for Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Dennis Miranda and Danny Ildefonso.
Against the offensive-minded Texters, the Boosters are expected to clamp down on defense, Agustin’s calling card.
“So far we’re doing ok with our preparation. The players are responding well, they’re in shape and ready for the series,“ said Agustin. “We’ll review the tapes. See where we can adjust and where we can have an advantage.“
The Boosters have yet to beat the Texters in two matches this conference, but Agustin is unfazed.
Agustin said they have no problem motivating themselves. He said the Texters are out to avenge their heartbreaking loss in the Governors’Cup that ended their grand slam bid.
“Yes. It’s a motivation. We know too they’ll be seeking revenge because we foiled them of a `grand slam’. We’ll not allow that to happen,“ Agustin said.
One thing going for the Boosters is that Cabagnot and Lutz have recovered from minor injuries sustained in the quarterfinals and ready to play.
Agustin said they are working on the stamina of players, particularly those in the frontline.
“TNT plays with a lot of energy and aggressiveness. This is already the semis, so we have to work double hard. We have our plan against TNT,” said Agustin.
Whether the series would be short or long, Agustin won’t say.
“We’ll just take it one game at a time. We’re looking forward to winning Game 1. That’s our focus now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Talk ‘N Text down plays perception that it frantically wants to win the Philippine Cup to make up for its failed bid to snare the grand slam last season.
“It’s not about redemption,“ stressed Chot Reyes, the Talk `N Text coach. “Our motivation springs from our desire to be the best we can be. It comes from within.“
The TropangTexters came close of becoming only the fourth franchise to win a Grand Slam last year, but unfortunately, lost the winner-take-all Game 7 of the Governors Cup Finals against undermanned Petron in what many considered as one of the biggest upsets in PBA history.
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