Barako tough to beat – Cone

Games Friday (Smart-Araneta Coliseum)

5:15 p.m. - Alaska vs Powerade

7:30 p.m. - B-Meg vs Barako Bull

Game Saturday (Hoops Dome, Lapu-Lapu City)

6:45 p.m. - Ginebra vs Meralco

MANILA, Philippines - Against a veteran team like Barako Bull, B-Meg coach Tim Cone knows that things aren't going to be easy.

"There's always trepidation (when you play Barako Bull)," said Cone as the Commissioner's Cup champion Llamados shoot for their second straight win when they face the unpredictable Energy today in the PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

B-Meg has beaten Barako twice in three meetings this season, but those victories were not convincing. The Energy won their first meeting in the PH Cup via overtime, 87-84, last Oct. 29, but the Llamados bounced back with an 88-86 win last Feb. 15.

Last conference, B-Meg defeated Barako Bull in their lone game in the elimination round, 91-90.

That only convinced Cone that the Energy can really compete at a very high level.

"They're an experienced team, a bunch with good talent, and are really well-coached," said Cone. "When they put it together, they are an extremely tough team to beat."

Though the two squads had contrasting results the last time, they are sporting identical 1-1 records together with Alaska, Barangay Ginebra and Meralco. Rain or Shine is surprisingly on top with a 3-0 card followed by Petron (2-1).

The Llamados are coming off a 96-88 win over the Ginebra Kings while the Energy are still reeling from a 104-84 loss to Alaska.

They clash at 7:30 p.m. just after the 5:15 p.m. duel between Alaska and Powerade, which will parade a new import in Omar Sneed.

In B-Meg's triumph opposite Ginebra last Sunday, PJ Simon led the team with 21 points while former two-time MVP James Yap scattered 13 of his 18 markers in the second half. Import Marqus Blakely had 13 points and 17 rebounds.

Blakely was 5-of-17 from the field and 3-of-15 from the foul line against the Kings, but Cone remains positive about their import.

For him, Blakely provides the team the hustle and extra energy as he averages 3 steals and 2.5 shot blocks per game.

Barako Bull, on the other hand, got just 19 points and seven rebounds from reinforcement Jamine Peterson in a loss to Alaska, numbers that were far cry from his 33-point performance in the team's 106-101 win over Powerade.

"More than his scoring, our import needs to play defense," said Barako Bull coach Junel Baculi. "And overall, we need to play team defense as it will boil down to minimizing the output of James, Simon and B-Meg's import."


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