As Gin Kings open title defense, teams begin hunt for their Govs’ Cup crown
Justin Brownlee has been hailed as the yardstick of success for imports in the PBA Governors’ Cup by no less than the league’s greatest coach.
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone is confident that Brownlee will live up to his tag when the Gin Kings begin the journey to retain their crown tonight against the Columbian Dyip at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“He’s the measuring stick of all other imports at this point,” said Cone, who won three titles with Brownlee, the latest of which was a classic triumph over San Miguel Beer in the Commissioner’s Cup last conference.
That victory further solidified Cone’s legacy as the coach with the most number of championships at 21, including a pair of Grand Slams.
With Brownlee back on his team, Cone and the Gin Kings will be aiming for a third straight Governors’ Cup diadem after frustrating the Meralco Bolts twice over in the Finals the past two seasons.
This time, though, Cone expects everyone to come after Brownlee.
“There’s a lot of very good imports and every import will be out there to prove themselves against him,” added Cone.
Getting the first crack at Brownlee will be Akeem Wright, the high-scoring Columbian import who has yet to notch a W for the Dyip in three games.
Cone foresees a rough stint for Brownlee in a conference where imports stand no taller than 6-foot-5.
“I think, in many ways, Justin had an easier time in the big [import] conference (Commissioner’s Cup) to score and do his thing because nobody could really match up to him,” said Cone.
“But in the 6-5 conference, there are a lot of them that can match up with him.”
The Kings, who will complement Brownlee with Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Joe Devance, are coming in fresh from a long rest that took more than three weeks following their conquest of the Beermen.
They needed every minute of that rest as it’s basically open season for their crown.
Phoenix, which opened the tournament with two huge wins before stumbling against Alaska, aims to bounce back in the other game when the Fuel Masters face the TNT KaTropa.
Calvin Abueva played against his former team for the first time since the Aces traded him to the Fuel Masters (2-1) prior to the conference.
The KaTropa, unsuccessful with Stacy Davis the past two games, intend to steady their campaign after losing three of their four games.
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