Barangay Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio sees the finals rematch against Meralco as dead even ahead of tipoff.
Tenorio has a point. Both teams are healthy and the Bolts have brought in additional firepower to level the return of Greg Slaughter to the Gin Kings and the acquisition of Kevin Ferrer from the draft.
“There’s no favorite and underdog in this series. It’s going to be 50-50,” Tenorio told INQUIRER.net.
“There are no injuries to either team and they’ve also added firepower in Ranidel,” he said, singling out the veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo, who has been a perfect fit for the Bolts.
The 33-year-old Tenorio said both teams present a difficult matchup to each other.
The Gin Kings have the size advantage with the 7-foot Slaughter and 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar upfront while the Bolts flaunt a versatile roster led by the do-it-all import Allen Durham.
“It’s gonna be a really, really tough matchup for both teams. Not only for us. Of course, we’re going to make things hard for them and definitely, they will also make it difficult for us,” Tenorio said.
Both Grand Slam coaches Tim Cone and Norman Black acknowledged the other team’s edge heading into Game 1 on Friday in Lucena.
“I think Meralco is probably the most balanced team out there. It’s going to be hard for us to dictate match-ups with them because of their versatility,” said Cone, the only coach to win two Grand Slams. “Durham changes things.”
“They are the biggest team in the league. They’ve shown this conference that they can overpower teams. We have Durham, we can go big or small but whatever we do, we’re never going to be big as them,” Black said.
Ginebra won last year’s finals on a buzzer-beating triple by Justin Brownlee in Game 6.
Meralco has been on a redemption tour ever since that painful loss and Tenorio thinks the Gin Kings have very little room for error.
“We just have to be ready, we just have to be composed and focused every possession this series. We cannot blink our eye, it’s like one blink and we’re dead.”