MANILA – NorthPort Batang Pier will find out this week if it is a playoff contender or a mere pretender as it will take on three tough teams this week.
Good thing for the Batang Pier, their head coach is back.
Pido Jarencio will once again steer NorthPort after he was given the clearance ahead of a Wednesday showdown against TNT Tropang Giga in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“Ang gandang welcome back sa akin, TNT agad (What a welcome back to me! I will face TNT immediately),” he said in jest.
Despite the Batang Pier being cleared to play last week, Jarencio was barred due to the coronavirus disease 2019, prompting Team Manager Bonnie Tan to take over on an interim basis.
They went 3-0 in the stretch even with Greg Slaughter ejected early into their Saturday game against the Terrafirma Dyip and absent against the NLEX Road Warriors on Sunday night.
Now, Jarencio has been given a tough task to sustain the winning streak that put NorthPort in sixth place at 4-3 against no less than first-place TNT (8-1) at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“For sure, naka-focus naman mga players and ready kami (the players are focused and we are ready),” he added.
Unlike the first two Wednesdays of the month, only two games will be played on the 15th with Phoenix and Ginebra clashing in the nightcap at 6 p.m.
Survival will be the name of the game as both the Fuel Masters (4-5) and the Gin Kings (3-5) are chasing for possibly the last spot in the quarterfinals.
For the first time since the games have been moved to Bacolor from Pasig City, all the 12 PBA teams will see action this week after Alaska and Meralco, which both skipped last week due to the league’s health and safety protocols, have been cleared to play.
However, the Aces will be the most hectic among the teams as they will play in three consecutive nights this weekend.
Alaska will first face Ginebra on Friday night, then TNT on Saturday night, and Terrafirma on Sunday night.
Only playing six games so far this conference, the Aces, currently in 10th place at 2-4, are still in the fight even for a Top 6 spot come the quarterfinals, which would keep them away from a disadvantage in the next round.
On the other hand, Meralco has an outright shot of locking in a once-to-advance edge in the Final 8 this week.
The Bolts, despite not playing last week, somehow got lucky that they stayed in second place as the other teams chasing for the Top 2 finish failed to capitalize on their absence.
Meralco will play Terrafirma on Thursday and Blackwater on Saturday.
The showdown between the Bolts and the Bossing will mark their first meeting since they agreed on a Mac Belo-Baser Amer trade. (PNA)