Duel of the Underdogs
Take away Ginebra’s huge fan base and the Kings’ duel with the Meralco Bolts for the PBA Governors’ Cup that kicks off today at Smart Araneta Coliseum will be a question of hunger.
“These two teams are so evenly matched that I think we kind of mirror each other in the way we play,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who is shooting for a 19th PBA title, said of the best-of-seven series.
The series features two of just four Grand Slam coaches in the league, but surprisingly, their duel wasn’t something anyone expected.
“I don’t think anyone expected both our teams to be here, especially us since we had the No. 1 team in the semifinals,” said Black.
But now that both teams are here, Ginebra hopes to make the most out of it to end an eight-year title drought.
“We played hard all season long just to get here,” said guard Sol Mercado, who will play in his first championship series.
In a battle of underdogs, Ginebra may have a slight edge, if only for the “homecourt edge” they have over every other team owing to their popularity.
“People are not expecting us to win. I think they’re hoping for us to win,’’ said Cone.
“Fortunately, the crowd doesn’t play on the court, so I’m not too concerned about them. We have to prepare more against the guys on the other side of the floor,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, who is hoping to give the Bolts their first franchise title.
Both squads lead the assists department with Jimmy Alapag and Chris Newsome distributing for Meralco and LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson directing the Ginebra attack.