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PBA: Barako eyes quarters vs Kia

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Kia
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Rain or Shine

Barako Bull Head Coach Koy Banal is warning his players not to take expansion club Kia for granted.

“Kia is a very dangerous team,” said Banal as the Energy take on the Carnival today when the playoff race in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup resumes at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Their win-loss record (of 3-3) does not speak of what they are capable of. We cannot afford to be complacent against them,” said Banal, whose team plays the Carnival at 5:15 p.m.

Clashing at 7 p.m. are Rain or Shine (3-4) and newcomer NLEX (2-5) – with the Elasto Painters aiming to extend their winning streak to three games following a slow 1-4 start.

ROS is fresh from an 88-73 win in the last Petron Saturday Special in Bacolod City against Commissioner’s Cup champion Talk ’N Text.

A win by the Energy – with a league-best 6-1 card – will formalize their entry into the quarterfinal round for the fourth straight time or since last season’s playoffs of the Commissioner’s Cup.

More importantly, a victory by the Energy will keep them on target for twice-to-beat incentive in the first round of the playoffs.

The conference format will have the top eight teams – out of 12 – moving to the quarterfinals with the top four earning twice-to-beat bonus, which is something the Barako Bull franchise has not achieved.

And that is one motivation Banal can use to fire up his players going against the Carnival.

“We have to find a way on how to motivate ourselves to prepare well versus Kia,” said Banal. “We are grateful for where we are now but we have to understand that we have not achieved anything yet.”

“We just have to keep pushing ourselves and just keep on moving forward,” added Banal.

Barako Bull went 4-0 at the start of the conference that equaled a franchise best start, but after Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer dealt the team its first loss this conference (113-116) last May 27, the Energy responded with back-to-back wins, beating Rain or Shine (112-103) and Globalport (123-114).

In last Sunday victory opposite the Batang Pier, Barako Bull’s 7-foot-2 reinforcement Liam McMorrow finished with career-high 41 points while adding 27 rebounds and five shot blocks in nearly 47 minutes of action.

The team also got solid contributions from Joseph Yeo with 19 points, while sophomore guard Carlo Lastimosa came off the bench to add 14 points, the same numbers put up by JC Intal, and RR Garcia added 10 points