Racing for top 2, Gin Kings begin tough three-day stretch
Key members of Barangay Ginebra hope to carry the confidence gained from outside endeavors and catch up in the race for the top two spots in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup.
Coach Tim Cone, Scottie Thompson, resident import Justin Brownlee and Jamie Malonzo and the Gin Kings begin a stretch of two games in three days at Smart Araneta Coliseum with a match against the fading Blackwater Bossing on Friday.
Then it will be a quick turnaround for Ginebra as it eyes a big win over TNT two days later at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City which sees Cone and counterpart Chot Reyes back on opposite sides following their Gilas Pilipinas duties in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Cone’s work focusing on defensive strategies contributed to Gilas’ sweep of the two road matches against Jordan and Saudi Arabia, with Thompson among the prime reasons.
The reigning PBA Most Valuable Player averaged 8.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals, a performance hailed by those who witnessed Gilas put up its best stretch since the Asian Qualifiers began.
Thompson’s all-around effort in the two games is expected to be a huge plus for the Gin Kings, who are currently in fourth place at 5-2 and eager to catch up on those above the standings.
Magnolia leads the pack at 8-1 with guest team Bay Area and Converge, on a seven-game winning run, closely behind at 8-2. All three teams have secured spots in the quarterfinals.
Malonzo also appeared in the fifth window while Brownlee recently got his naturalization process up and running when the house panel approved the bill seeking to make him a Filipino citizen on the first reading.
Ginebra’s battle with Blackwater comes after the 3 p.m. opener between NLEX and winless Terrafirma, which again tries to snap a 25-game skid.
Magnolia and Bay Area slug it out on Saturday at PhilSports in an intriguing battle that will see coach Chito Victolero make an attempt to outwit Brian Goorjian.
Dragons import Myles Powell and Hotshots reinforcement Nick Rakocevic are also expected to play important roles for the squads, with the contest having implications in the quest to get the twice-to-beat advantage allotted to the two best records after the eliminations.
San Miguel Beer tries to bounce back when it battles Phoenix in Saturday’s opener while Sunday’s curtain-raiser will be Converge going for eighth in a row opposite NorthPort.
NorthPort and Phoenix are tied for fifth at 5-5 while Meralco, on a three-game winning streak and TNT share identical 4-5 records for seventh and eighth positions.
Rain or Shine is behind at 4-6, San Miguel fell to 10th at 3-5 after back-to-back setbacks. Two teams with similar four-game slides are NLEX (3-6) and Blackwater (3-7) with Terrafirma languishing at the bottom at 0-9.
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