Games Thursday Ynares Arena,
1 p.m. – Café France vs MP
3 p.m. – Hapee vs Kera Mix
Café France and Hapee seem to be doing pretty well on the road to recovery since losing their openers.
The Bakers have won two in row against Tanduay Light (1-3) and Cagayan Valley (2-2) after a disappointing 85-86 loss to leader Cebuana Lhuillier (4-0) last March 26 in which they led by as many 21 points.
The same story goes for the Fresh Fighters, who opened their campaign with a 61-64 loss to Jumbo Plastic (2-2) but caught up with the early leaders with a pair of bounce back victories against newcomer Liver Marin (1-3) and AMA University (2-2).
Tied for second place behind the Gems – the only unbeaten team in the tournament – the Bakers and Fresh Fighters hope they have not lost a bit as they return to the battlefield on Thursday.
Café France takes on MP Hotel at 1 p.m. while Hapee, the Aspirants’ Cup champion, tests the mettle of Kera Mix at 3 o’clock at the Ynares Arena.
Egay Macaraya said his troop have shown strong character the past two games but worries the long lay-off could disrupt their momentum.
“The [10-day] break allowed us to recharge and get some rest. But it also could work against us. My players often struggle picking up their game coming off a long break,” Macaraya said.
That could spell trouble for the Bakers, who are anticipating a tough challenge against the Warriors, motivated to rebound from a 68-82 loss against the Guardians last week.
“That makes them [Warriors] dangerous. So we really have to step up and try to match their energy,” Macaraya said.
Ronnie Magsanoc, who calls the shot for Hapee, also expects the Fresh Fighters to have their hands full against the Mixers.
“They have the tools to compete against any team. I just hope the players will continue to step up and raise their level of play. Every game for us is a challenge,” Magsanoc said.
Already without the injured RayRay Parks, who hurt his left shoulder in Game 2 of last conference’s Finals, the Fresh Fighters also lost big man Arnold Van Opstal and shooter Garvo Lanete to the national team.
“We’re looking around for a couple of big men to augment our depleted line up. At the moment, the team will just have to do with what we have,” Magsanoc said.
Kera Mix opened its campaign against with successive wins against MP Hotel and Liver Marin but lost their last two against Cebuana Lhuillier and Jumbo Plastic.