After 1st win, Ginebra braces for ‘tough game’ vs unbeaten Star
Things are not looking to get any easier for Barangay Ginebra.
After notching their first win in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Gin Kings will be tested against their rivals Star Hotshots on Sunday in one of the conference’s most anticipated games.
Star has won four in a row despite its longtime leader Marc Pingris yet to make his conference debut and the Hotshots have certainly gotten the attention of the Gin Kings.
“They’re an undefeated team, they’ve been playing really, really well,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone after a 113-96 rout of winless GlobalPort Wednesday night.
“They’re playing good basketball right now, they have a good import. I think nakukuha na nila yung chemistry nila as a team,” said Kings point guard LA Tenorio, who sustained a cut above his left eye after colliding with Batang Pier big man Rico Maierhofer in the waning seconds. “Even though Ping is not playing, we really have to focus on our defense and yung gameplan.”
The Hotshots have been a force to reckon with thanks to their deep roster and import Tony Mitchell, who quickly learned how to play with his new teammates.
“Tony Mitchell seems to fit them really well. I scouted him in the D-League, he’s a very active guy, a very athletic and very active, he plays the game with a lot of emotion,” Cone praised.
“He’s been playing very well for them, and they’ve looked really sharp. They’ve looked really sharp ever since Chito (Victolero) took over, so you know, we have our work cut out for us, obviously.”
Mitchell had 19 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks in Star’s 97-83 victory over Mahindra on Wednesday.
But Mitchell isn’t the only one Ginebra has to deal with in its duel against Star, which flaunts a talented lineup from top to bottom.
Against the Floodbuster, the Hotshots showed their firepower with four of their guards reaching double figures in scoring led by rookie Jio Jalalon’s 14.
“It’s gonna be tough game for us on Sunday for sure so we need to bring our A-game against Star so we cant afford to lose, win [and then] lose [again] in this conference,” Tenorio said. “We need to gain some momentum, so it will be big for us if we’re gonna win against Star.”
The showdown on Sunday will be the two teams’ first meeting since Ginebra overcame Star in Game 7 of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup two months ago.