7 p.m.--Ginebra vs. Magnolia
DESPITE finally breaking their seven-game losing spell to defending champion Barangay Ginebra dating back last February with an inspiring victory in Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series last Saturday, Magnolia Pambansang Manok is bracing for war.
For the Hotshots, it feels like waking up a sleeping giant with meal time fast approaching.
Ask Magnolia import Romeo Travis.
“It’s not gonna be easy beating them (Kings) again,” said Travis in the eve of Monday’s pivotal Game 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“They’re not gonna lay down, they got a great coach, they got great players, perennial champions, so they’re gonna come back,” added Travis, who finushed with a career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in Magnolia’s 106-98 victory over the Kings in Game 1 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo last Saturday.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero echied Travis’s observation.
“Winning Game 1 is not an assurance that we will reach the finals,” said Victolero.
“Ang pinag-usapan dito, we need to win three games in order for us to go to the finals. Although there’s a percentage na nakuha namin (in our favor), hindi pa rin assurance iyan.”
Still, the stunning victory by the Hotshots in the opener of their best-of-five series against the Kings should make both Travis and Victolero feel good -- very good.
“I feel like we finally believed that we can beat them,” Travis said. “Before it was in question. Now, I feel like the guys feel that they know that we can beat them. And that’s all I want.”
Added Travis: “In Game 2 we don’t want to be overconfident. We wanna know that we’re back to the drawing board. We wanna start 0-0, coming in with the same hunger and same tenacity as we did starting in the second quarter.”
Travis’ celebrated Ginebra counterpart, Justin Brownlee, has work cut out for him if the Gin Kings hope to come back strong and even the series.
Brownlee matched Travis’ 37points but went only 12-of-28 from the field in more than 46 minutes on the floor. He also failed to sustain a strong start that saw him score 20 points in the first quarter alone where the Kings took two 12-point leads.
It’s not :Brownlee alone, however.”
Save for a brief stretch in the fourth quarter, Ginebra struggled in the face of Magnolia’s defensive presence.
After making 16 of their first 22 shots, the Gin Kings wound up shooting 37 of 80 from the field to Magnolia’s 43 of 93 clip.
The Kings also committed 22 turnovers.
The battle is also expected to extend to the local gunners — Paul Lee, Justin Melton, Ian Sangalang, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Rome dela Rosa, Rafi Reavis, and Robert Herndon for Magnolia and Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, Scottie Thompson, Jeff Chan, Kevin Ferrer, Aljon Mariano and Sol Mercado.