IN A no-holds barred encounter that has all the trappings of a heavyweight title fight, league-leading Barangay Ginebra and defending champion San Miguel Beer clash in the featured game of another blockbuster quadruple bill in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
The 6:45 p.m. showdown between the Gin Kings and the Beermen should provide the excitement needed on another long day of basketball in the NBA-inspired bubble in Pampanga.
Although the league’s two most popular teams are currently heading separate ways — the Gin Kings winning three games in a row to assume the solo lead at 7-2 and the Beermen losing twice to suddenly find themselves to the brink at 5-4 — the Ginebra-SMB encounter should be close and exciting to the end.
Ask Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“They might lose a game or two but they’re never in a slump They’re still the best team out there.,” said Cone right after Ginebra’s impressive 85-79 win over erstwhile co-leader Talk N Text last Friday that moved them closer to the No. 1 spot at the end of the 11-game eliminations.
“I know San Miguel can turn it on so easily, so we have to be ready,” added Cone.
Cone knows the importance of the game against San Mgiuel.
Victories by Ginebra over San Miguel today and lowly Terrafirma on Monday will give them the No. 1 spot and a twice-to-beat advantage over the No. 8 team in the ensuing quarterfinals.
San Miguel is coming off back-to-back losses to Phoenix, 103-110, last Thursday and 90-124 setback at the hands of NLEX early Friday, and Cone feels the two-game slide makes San Miguel even more dangerous when they meet tonight.
“I can’t think of a worst time to play them after they got beaten badly by another opponent. That’s absolutely the worst time to play San Miguel,” said Cone.
“We’re not looking forward to it, but it’s a challenge and we’re going to try to take it on,”he added.
Cone’s main weapons against San Miguel will be Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio, who were instrumental in the Gin Kings’ resounding victory over the Tropang Giga.
Pringle finished with a team-high 28 points and 12 rebounds, Aguilar added his own double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds and Tenorio contributed 15 points and nine assists in leading Ginebra to its third straight win and seventh in nine games overall.
Pringle also had 31 points and six rebounds in Ginebra’s 87-81 win over Alaska Milk last Tuesday; and 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists in their 112-100 triumph over NorthPort.
In other crucial games Sunday, Blackwater battles Rain or Shine at 10 a.m., Meralco plays Terrafirma at 1 p.m. and Magnolia Pambansang Manok meets NorthPort at 4 p.m.
The top eight teams after the single-round elimination will advance to the quarterfinals, and the last four-placed teams will be eliminated and go home.
(AUF Sports Center)
10 a.m. — Blackwater vs. Rain or Shine
1 p.m. — Meralco vs Terrafirma
4 p.m. — Magnolia vs. NorthPort
6:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs. San Miguel Beer