Fresh from conquering the Southeast Asian Games, five players will plunge straight into semifinal action when the PBA Governors’ Cup resumes at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
Barangay Ginebra will field Gilas Pilipinas regulars Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Greg Slaughter in its showdown with NorthPort, and the main concern is the quick turnaround from having to represent the national team to fending off a squad that has positioned itself as a giant-slayer.
But Tim Cone thinks that the Gilas standouts in the Kings’ roster will actually be a positive influence on the team and that fatigue will hardly be a factor.
“[T]hose players who participated in the [Southeast Asian Games] are pumped to get the semis going,” Cone told the Inquirer in a text message.
“For teams in the semis, it seems like a long time between games, but for Ginebra, it seems like a really quick turnaround. Coach Olsen [Racela], however, did a great job of keeping our [other] guys sharp and ready,” he added.
“We’ll be alright in Game 1.”
The Batang Pier will also have a Gilas star in their roster. Unlike Cone, though, NorthPort coach is a bit concerned about Christian Standhardinger’s energy level.
“He’ll play,” Pido Jarencio told the Inquirer. “But of course, we need to manage his [recovery].”“He was sick and he missed practice [on Friday]. And it’s understandable as he’s been playing continuously.”
Aside from managing the minutes of his frontcourt workhorse, Jarencio will also have to deal with the absence of versatile forward Kevin Ferrer, who will be sitting out Saturday’s game following a toe injury.
But Jarencio insists his charges will be ready for the 6:30 p.m. opener of their best-of-five semifinal series: “We’re free of pressure because nobody … expected us to be here.”
NorthPort, despite a 5-6 record going into the playoffs, have proven themselves to be a force this conference. The Batang Pier not only own wins over Ginebra and powerhouse San Miguel Beer, they also rocked the tournament with a shock ouster of No. 1 NLEX in the quarterfinals.
More than fatigue, that is what worries Cone.
“We know NorthPort will be coming in with a lot of confidence,” he said.
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