A giant awakens
Ginebra used a rip-roaring start to bury the Batang Pier early and be on cruise control the rest of the way as the Gin Kings leveled their best-of-three PBA Governors’ Cup series after two games and dealt the enemy a big blow in confidence at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Game 3 is set on Wednesday with the Kings now owning momentum as they try to return to the Finals and regain the crown they lost last year to sister squad Magnolia.
“I thought we came in with a lot of playoff intensity this time,” said coach Tim Cone, who blasted his charges on Saturday after a 34-point loss.
“Today was a lot better. We shot the ball well and we played with a lot of intensity.”
Stanley Pringle had 23 points, LA Tenorio dropped 20 with four others scoring twin digits in a balanced scoring attack that did not require Justin Brownlee to dominate the offense.
Michael Qualls had 20 points to pace the Batang Pier, the eighth seeds looking to make a title series for the first time.
The winner of this series will advance to face the survivor of the TNT-Meralco match-up, which the KaTropa lead after an authoritative 103-94 victory on Sunday.That night, the KaTropa swarmed the Bolts, with their defense proving to be most unforgiving in the middle quarters as TNT not only grabbed a 1-0 lead but also gained a lot of confidence moving forward considering how masterfully it handled Meralco.
Yet coach Bong Ravena feels his charges still have long way to go.
“We still have to work on our defense,” he told scribes after the contest. “We have to continue finding ways stopping (Allen) Durham.”
There is no need to further validate Ravena’s concern, as Durham, who is on his fourth year with Meralco, still managed to finish with 32 points and 21 rebounds even with the TNT defense focused on him the entire night.
“Putting a double-team on him won’t cut it,” Ravena said.
Such a view is shared by TNT playmaker, Jayson Castro, who was among the big contributors for the KaTropa.
“Durham is Durham. He has been this league’s Best Import many times in the past,” he said. “We have to figure out other ways of limiting him.”
“At the same time, we also have to continue limiting their locals,” Castro added.
The TNT defense also did its job on the locals, with onlyswingman Chris Newsome and former Gilas marksman Allein Maliksi able to contribute big for Meralco.
Coach Norman Black, though, believes their scoring woes were brought about by lack of teamwork.
“You give them credit, too, because defensively, they defended us well, but at the same time, we forced up too many bad shots,” he said. INQ