Barangay Ginebra shoots for a fifth straight win to stay in the upper half of the PBA Philippine Cup standings Friday when the Gin Kings mix it up with the dangerous Air21 Express at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
With a 6-5 record, the Kings hope to keep fourth place in the 7:30 p.m. game even as Meralco tries to rise above .500 again against struggling Barako Bull at 5:15 p.m.
The four-game win streak gave the Kings a winning record for the first time since going
2-0 and then losing their next five games.
As it is, finishing in the top two is practically out of reach for the Kings, with Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee, both idle, locked in a heated race to join leader Talk ‘N Text, who has clinched a twice-to-beat bonus in the playoffs.
Ginebra has three games remaining and a sweep would get the Kings to 9-5. But Rain or Shine and San Mig already have eight wins each with the Elasto Painters still to play two games and the Mixers three more.
Finishing within third to sixth place would put Ginebra and Meralco in a best-of-three series, hence an equal chance in the quarterfinals, with the No. 1 and 2 squads clashing with No. 8 and 7, respectively, and needing to win just once to make the Final Four.
That is also Meralco’s aim against the Energy, who have their backs against the wall with a 3-8 record.
As things stand, only Talk ‘N Text, San Mig and Rain or Shine are assured of quarterfinal seats and Globalport the only squad within a loss of bombing out. The idle Batang Pier
(1-10) clash with Alaska in a road game in Dipolog City tomorrow.
Powerhouse Petron Blaze, after an 82-95 loss to the Tropang Texters on Wednesday, is at seventh spot with the Express lodged at eighth.
Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio have become Ginebra’s primary offensive guns and rookie Yousef Taha has slowly gotten into the flow of the Kings’ game on both ends.
Mike Cortez will lead the Express, together with KG Canaleta.