By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Team Pendleton Whisky General Manager Justin McBride knows his team is beat up, is battered, bruised and nowhere near where he would like them to be physically ahead of a huge game against Team Ariat Sunday on CBS national television.
Team leaders Marco Eguchi and Lucas Divino have been visibly in pain since Division B play began on June 19, and the two have only gotten more hurt as the games have gone on.
However, McBride knows Team Pendleton Whisky (4-1) can dig deep and overcome its multitude of injuries and defeat Team Ariat (4-0-1) to win the Division B title at the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
It has been a message McBride was preaching days before Division B began last week in Las Vegas at the Pendleton Whisky Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at South Point Arena.
“You have to be willing to be that team that is willing to fight until the end of this thing,” McBride said before the start of Division B play. “When everyone else is ready to go home, you are still ready to get on another. With this format, by that second week, by the time it rolls around, guys aren’t used to getting on two a day anymore. They are tired. They want to go home. They are sore. Some of them are hurt.
“You can’t let that ruin you. You have to be willing to push that out.”
Team Captain Eguchi has been a testament of that mindset as he continues to ride with a partially torn left groin.
Eguchi was able to help Pendleton Whisky defeat Team Lucas Oil 88-86.5 points Saturday night, and put his team in a position to win Division B Sunday with a win over Team Ariat.
The Division B winner receives a first round bye for Championship Weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on July 10-12. Pendleton Whisky and Ariat have already clinched two of the three Division B playoff spots. The winner of Sunday’s No. 3 Team South Point (3-2) vs. No. 4 Team Boot Barn (2-2-1) at 11:45 a.m. ET on CBS Sports Network will get the final playoff spot.
The Top 3 teams from Division B following Sunday’s contests will join Division A qualifiers Team Cooper Tires, Team Las Vegas and Team Can-Am at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls.
Eguchi began the game Saturday night with an 88-point ride on Marquis Metal Works Draggin Up to set the tone right away.
Team Lucas Oil captain Matt Triplett answered with 86.5 points on Space Monkey before each team combined to end the game with 10 consecutive buckoffs.
“Well, we have to fight,” Eguchi told CBS Sports Network’s Kate Harrison after the game. “We started with some injuries, and we are doing our best during the week to work on our injuries. We are thankful for the win, but we have to work better at the next game.”
Divino was unable to get on his second bull Saturday night after Total Feeds Bushwacked bucked him off in 3.3 seconds. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Divino bruised his right forearm. Divino was already competing with an injury to his riding hand.
Amadeu Campos, who is competing with an unstable left shoulder, then stepped in for Divino in the second half only to have Soy El Fuego send him flying in 2.55 seconds.
The only rider not on Dr. Tandy Freeman’s injury report is newcomer Boudreaux Campbell, who is 2-for-4.
In fact, Team Pendleton Whisky has used all four of its riders in every one of its five games at the METC, and that may end up being the case once again on Sunday. It’s truly been an all-hands-on-deck approach for Pendleton Whisky.
“You have to beat the team that is front of you,” McBride told Craig Hummer on CBS Sports Network Saturday night. “They did that tonight, but they have to clean some stuff up and hopefully get through these injuries.”
HAMILTON HOPEFUL TO RIDE FOR ARIAT SUNDAY
There is one big injury concern for Team Ariat as it attempts to win the Division B crown, and that is the health of Ky Hamilton.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, the 20-year-old standout possibly sustained a broken left jaw Saturday night when Get Shorty bucked him off in 3.11 seconds. Hamilton also hyper-extended his right elbow (riding arm).
Freeman has listed Hamilton as questionable for the game, but Hamilton is hopeful he can ride on Sunday. He told Team Captain Cooper Davis to leave him in the lineup on Saturday night, and he plans on riding in the Division B title game unless he feels worse on Sunday morning and receives the OK from Freeman.
Hamilton is 5-for-9 for Team Ariat, and he has drawn Dust Bender and Little Okie.
Professional Bull Riders – Team Challenge – Game 33
Las Vegas, NV, 2020
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Marco Eguchi, 88-0-88.00
2. Matt Triplett, 86.5-0-86.50
Lucas Divino, 0-0-0.00
Ryan Dirteater, 0-0-0.00
Amadeu Campos Silva, 0-0-0.00
Dalton Kasel, 0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0.00
Scottie Knapp, 0-0-0.00
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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