Realtors out to break spell vs Barako Bulls

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Realtors out to break spell vs Barako Bulls

MANILA, Philippines - Sta. Lucia Realty hopes to finally get back into the groove coming off a long break and a loss to Talk n Text as it clashes with the Barako Bulls in the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo today.

The Realtors battle the Energy Boosters at 6:30 p.m. looking to bounce back from a 91-97 defeat to the Tropang Texters last Wednesday – the first game for the giant land developing franchise in almost three weeks.

Falling behind by as many as 34 points in the first half, Sta. Lucia made a spirited chase but ran out of time in its bid to turn the game around.

Coach Boyet Fernandez hopes his team can sustain the momentum of their second-half effort Wednesday as they tangle with the Energy Boosters, eyeing to firm up their hold of second place behind the front-running and unbeaten San Miguel Beermen.

“We have to start strong and be aggressive all throughout. We can’t afford falling behind by a big margin before we start playing,” said Fernandez.

Sta. Lucia, with a 5-3 win-loss record, regained solo second Friday as Rain or Shine suffered a stinging 89-94 defeat to an all-Filipino Barangay Ginebra side at the Araneta Coliseum.

Purefoods Tender Juicy, meanwhile, guns for its third straight win as it mixes it up with a struggling Alaska squad at 4 p.m.

Point guard Celino Cruz suits up with the Giants for the first time after being traded by Burger King for Aaron Aban last Friday.

“Celino adds more stability and maturity in our backcourt rotation. He is a heady point guard who has a good shooting range up to the three-point area,” said Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio of their new recruit.

But Gregorio remains wary of Alaska Milk, headed by two-time MVP winner Willie Miller who’s coming off a remarkable 28-point game leading the Aces to a 100-90 win over Barako Bull Friday.

“Miller was incredible against Barako Bull. Part of our plan would be to wear him down on both ends of the floor,” said Gregorio.

“We’re hoping that our defense can hold up once more. We have held our last two opponents to less than 80 points, and defense will again be given emphasis,” Gregorio added. “Our goal is to finish the classification round in the top two . Every game counts and a win draws us closer to our target.”

Tournament format calls for the top two teams after the classification round getting outright entry into the semifinals. Teams No. 3 and No. 4 play teams No. 10 and No. 9 with a twice-to-beat advantage while teams No. 5 and No. 6 take on teams No. 8 and No. 7 in a best-of-three playoffs.

Down in the lower half of the chart with only five games left in the preliminary round, Alaska coach Tim Cone is thankful no team will be eased out after the initial phase of the tourney.

“Right now, we’re trying to get our focus to be ready for the playoffs. I don’t think Nos. 1-4 (slots) are still available for us. We’ll try to avoid No. 9 and No. 10. Hopefully, we can establish rhythm,” said Cone.

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