Christmas showdown | Inquirer Sports

Christmas showdown

Rivals Ginebra, Star go at it in Yuletide match; Blackwater eyes No. 2 spot, battles Mahindra
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 10:21 PM December 24, 2016

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PBA IMAGES

BOCAUE, Bulacan—The PBA Philippine Cup match that everyone wants to see happens today, with one team walking out of the cavernous Philippine Arena here sure to have a Christmas to remember.

Star, finally getting new coach Chito Victolero’s system and embracing Paul Lee as its new cornerstone, and Barangay Ginebra clash in the most-anticipated game of the season-opening conference in a match that has the hype and atmosphere of a Game 7.

The Hotshots will be putting a three-game winning streak on the line in the 5:30 p.m. match, while the Gin Kings will be coming in trying to stop a three-game skid and make the last few days of the year joyous.

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“It’s always special playing against them,” Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio said. “There’s just always a different atmosphere in a Ginebra-Star game. Both teams just come out truly pumped up.”

Tenorio hit the Christmas Day game-winning triple last year and would like his Gin Kings to be able to wind up on the winning end again—no matter if they get it in the last-gasp offensive or otherwise.

“As long as the fans get what they want, and that is a game of the highest quality, we don’t mind,” Tenorio said, smiling.

Ginebra faces a different Star team this time around after the Hotshots traded former MVP James Yap to Rain or Shine in exchange for Lee, who has slowly developed into a franchise player for the squad.

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But old reliables PJ Simon and Marc Pingris will still be around to lead the battle against the Gin Kings, who will parade Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, Sol Mercardo and rookie Kevin Ferrer, who has shown a deft shooting touch of late.

The league returns to this massive, ultra-modern facility for the first time since the opening of the 2014 Season, and it hopes to break the all-time attendance mark of 52,612 today with two other teams in that same playdate two years ago clashing again.

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Blackwater is a far different team that lost to then-KIA in 2014, and the Elite open up hostilities against lowly Mahindra in the 3 p.m. game heavily favored to get back at the Floodbusters.

With a 4-2 record, the Elite can end the year in solo second place with a win over the Floodbusters.

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TAGS: Christmas, PBA

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