Winning is a habit, and Converge coach Jeffrey Cariaso wants to instill this on his players even if it seems that they have a truly tough task ahead.
“Our next couple of games are heavy, but I’ve learned—as a player and a coach—that you have to be able to notch some wins, back-to-back if possible, to have a chance in this league,” Cariaso said after his FiberXers broke away in the fourth quarter to subdue Terrafirma, 97-84, and snap a two-game PBA Philippine Cup slide at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
They will now be looking to post the first winning streak in franchise history by trying to slay a giant come the weekend.
“We were focused on today, and we did our job today,” Cariaso added as he and his charges brace for a real acid test—and also see if they acquired the habit—on Sunday when they clash with powerhouse San Miguel Beer at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Barangay Ginebra held NLEX to a miserable 12 points in the fourth quarter to carve out an 83-75 victory in the nightcap.
It was the third win in four games for the Gin Kings, who bounced mightily back from an 89-84 defeat at the hands of Magnolia also last Sunday.
The Road Warriors slumped to a 2-2 record after firing blanks during the most critical time.
“Can we learn and improve on it? Yes, and we’re going to,” Cariaso said. “We’re just gonna prepare as hard as we can for San Miguel in our next game.”
The win upped Converge’s record to 2-3, still way off the pace being set by the 3-0 Beermen, but it is one which Cariaso embraced so much since it came even with top gun Jeron Teng out with a bruised hip and enforcer Kevin Racal also injured.
Mike DiGregorio and Maverick Ahanmisi scored in double figures in the final frame to key the breakaway and doom the Dyip, who also played without two key cogs, to a fourth straight loss.
“We wanted to come in with the understanding that they are a lot better than their record. Terrafirma is a tough team. They have a couple of injuries, but we know how good they can be, even with the guys that are just remaining,” Cariaso went on.
Failure to deliver
DiGregogrio topscored with 19 points while Ahanmisi chipped in 17 to go with eight assists and eight rebounds to fill the void left by Teng and Racal, who sat it out with a sprained ankle and is due to return against San Miguel.
The young turks also came through with Dave Murrell chipping in 15 points and Justin Arana accounting for 10 points and 12 rebounds. Taylor Browne had 10 points.
Terrafirma, which didn’t have Isaac Go and Ed Daquioag, was led by the 18 points of Joseph Gabayni, who also had seven rebounds. Four others wound up in twin digits for the Dyip, as Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel had to expand his rotation due to its own manpower crisis.
“Whenever I insert my bench players, my second and third stringers, we could not maintain [our play],” said Cardel.
Teng is listed to be out for at least a couple of weeks, and this could hurt Cariaso and the goal he has set for his team, especially with a clash against Barangay Ginebra slated the Friday after the match with San Miguel.
“We want to be consistent,” he said.
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