Winning is becoming a habit for powerhouse Mighty Sports in the 2016 Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League Chairman’s Cup, having won all of its first three matches in impressive fashion.
However, coach Mike Fermin is not only pleased with their victories but also with how his star-studded lineup, led by two-time UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena and Perpetual Help center Bright Akhuetie, is willing to play as one, cohesive unit.
“Those guys are winners and they are winners on their own right. Individually, kapag sinabi kong 1-on-1, malalakas ‘yan. It’s just (a matter of) how you put them in a team and how they will play as a team. At ‘yun ang maganda: They are committed to play as a team,” said Fermin following Mighty Sports’ dominant 81-63 victory over Euro-Med last Sunday night at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center.
The 6-foot-7 Akhuetie notched his third consecutive double-double performance of 22 points and 19 rebounds despite sitting out the final frame while former RP Youth standout Gab Banal banged in 18 points, built around six triples, while the 6-foot Ravena collected 17 points, five boards and three assists in just under 29 minutes of action in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Fermin, who previously called the shots for Adamson U in the UAAP men’s cage wars, believes Mighty Sports has “the cream of the crop” in terms of talent but his wards’ desire to achieve a common goal makes them stronger and better in the seven-team field.
“We (the coaching staff) would like to thank all the players for the commitment and dedication to play for us,” said Fermin. “Ito ang dream team para sa akin. Yes, we have superstars pero hindi nila nilalagay sa ulo nila kasi alam nilang may mas magaling pa rin sa kanila dito sa team. ‘Yun ang nakakatuwa. This is a dream team because of their (collective) attitude.”
Although former Rain or Shine mainstay TY Tang has yet to give his full commitment to the team, Mighty Sports still boasts several amateur standouts like former Arellano U hotshot Adrian Celada, ex-Mapua star guard Allan Mangahas, former Ateneo guard Tonino Gonzaga and the Bringas brothers—Arvie and Mark, easily making them the top title favorites.
Fermin, however, toned down the hype, saying his charges still have plenty of room for improvement—conditioning-wise—since they have only started getting full attendance in their recent practices.
“Modesty aside, nasa otso pa lang kami. Conditioning-wise, wala pa masyado. Nagre-rely lang kami sa talent and range. ‘Yun lang ang maganda sa amin,” said Fermin. “Sana hindi sila magsawa (manalo) at mag-relax. Short preparation pa rin kami at nito-nito lang kami nakukumpleto sa ensayo.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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