Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen yesterday stressed that 6-foot-7 Yousef Taha is not going to be their messiah, but he hopes the rookie center will give them the lift to end their five-game losing run.
The arrival of Taha, according to Tanquingcen, could be the 'shot in the arm' the team needs to get their confidence back when they play against Globalport today in the PBA Philippine Cup today at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Ginebra and Globalport collide in the main-game of a twin-bill at 7:30 p.m., while clashing in the 5:15 p.m. curtain raiser are Barako Bull and Air21, with both teams hoping to follow up their respective wins last week.
Ginebra will face a team that is also aiming to end its own four-game losing skid, with the last one coming against Barako Bull (95-94) last Sunday. The only win, so far, in Globalport's record was a 105-104 victory over Meralco last Oct. 17.
The Batang Pier, meantime, are high in spirits with the return of superstar Gary David.
''He's been practicing, and he's ready to play,'' said Globalport coach Glenn Capacio.
The former PBA player Capacio said that the team proved it can compete, although he mentioned they have to do it consistently, particularly in the endgame, saying: ''We're frustrated the way we finished the game, so we have to be patient.''
''We just have to keep working hard to achieve our dreams to be there with the other teams on top,'' added Capacio.
David missed six games due to a bruised right knee.
With David back, he's expected to form anew a deadly duo with former two-time MVP Willie Miller, while providing help for Globalport are Mark Yee, Rey Guevara, Josh Vanlandingham, Rabah Al-Hussaini, as well as rookie Alfred Mandani, Vic Manuel and Jason Deutchman.
The Kings got Taha, an energetic center who averaged 4.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, following a trade deal with Air21, which tabbed the former Mapua Cardinal first in the second round (11th overall) in the previous PBA Rookie Draft.
Ginebra sent veteran point guard Mike Cortez to Air21, and the former La Salle stalwart is expected to see action when the Express face the Energy Cola.
Tanquingcen said that it will be unfair to put the pressure on Taha.
''We got him because we really need somebody to plug the hole at the center position,'' said Tanquingcen. ''But we really don't know if this trade will work for us, sometimes it takes a conference or a year before you know. For now, this is what we need.''
Taha's arrival provided additional frontline player for Ginebra, which the team is actually lacking as it only rotates with the likes of veterans Kerby Raymundo, Billy Mamaril, Rico Maierhofer, Rudy Hatfield, and rookie Keith Jensen.