The Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup playoffs get going this Wednesday with two perennial title contenders looking to reclaim a measure of their pride in their respective best-of-three duels at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
San Miguel Beer, the last crowned winner of the midseason showcase back in 2019, is eyeing payback when it squares off with dangerous Converge in the curtain-raiser set at 3 p.m.
“We’ve learned our lesson,” said assistant Jorge Gallent, who has steered the Beermen to a four-game winning streak while filling in for head coach Leo Austria, who has yet to return from being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols back on Nov. 19.
“We will find ways to get better at [playing],” he went on. Now we have June Mar [Fajardo], I think we have a good chance of playing better because we now have someone who can help us get the boards, score and just be a presence in the paint.”
Devon Scott certainly learned a lot from the Beermen’s loss to the FiberXers.
“I take a lot on my shoulders from that game, why we lost,” he said of that 106-102 defeat. “It was a very close game coming down the stretch.”
“But you know, I now have more games under my belt and got more time to jell with the team. No matter who it’s gonna be, it’s a tough game. I believe in my guys, always. I believe in myself, too, so, it’s going to be a battle,” Scott added.
Barangay Ginebra, meanwhile, hopes to be even more decisive in the nightcap than they were during their last meeting against NorthPort.
Despite an upgraded athletic core led by reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, the indefatigable Justin Brownlee and former Batang Pier standout Jamie Malonzo, the Gin Kings had to dig deeper just to put away hard-fighting Batang Pier, 122-105, last Nov. 27 in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize how close NorthPort played us in the eliminations before succumbing in the fourth quarter,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone in a message to the Inquirer.
“With all their shooters and their ability to spread the floor for [Robert] Bolick, they are a tough matchup for us. And whatever is missed, [Prince] Ibeh cleans it all up. His size around the basket is also a tough matchup. So we know we have our hands full with NorthPort. We can’t bring anything less than our A-game,” said Cone. INQ