BARANGAY Ginebra is getting hotter than ever despite playing with a depleted lineup.
The Gin Kings return to hard court today, looking to sustain the heat of their campaign in the PBA Governors’ Cup they had ruled in the last seasons.
Riding the momentum of last Friday’s momentous 106-92 triumph over NLEX, the Gin Kings meet Meralco at 6:45 p.m. at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Arena in a rematch of the two teams that clashed in the finals of the season-ending conference’s last two editions.
In their game against the Road Warriors, the Gin Kings welcomed the return of Japeth Aguilar after being sidelined for weeks, and the high-flying 6-foot-10 was among the five players who scored in double figures along with Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Mark Caguioa and Aljon Mariano.
Caguioa in particular achieved a milestone in his professional career, reaching the exclusive 10,000-point club in the company of Ramon Fernandez, Abet Guidaben, Alvin Patrimonio, Atoy Co, Nelson Asaytono, Philip Cezar, Jojo Lastimosa, Bogs Adornado, Robert Jaworski, Allan Caidic, Jerry Codinera, Benjie Paras, Francis Arnaiz, James Yap and Norman Black.
The Gin Kings will continue to play without Joe Devance because of injury. Greg Slaughter and Sol Mercado are not about to return to action, and Ginebra coach Tim Cone said the two would be joining the team in practice by Monday.
The game is expected to be a lot interesting as it will showcase Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee against Meralco’s Allen Durham who were the same imports for Ginebra and Meralco in their finals encounters in 2016 and 2017 editions of the Governors’ Cup.
Both Brownlee and Durham scored in double figures in their last outings, with the former scoring 26 points against NLEX and the latter 32 in Meralco’s loss to Blackwater.
The Gin Kings will actually gun for their fourth straight victory —and seventh overall in eight outings — which will virtually secure for them one of the top four slots offering incentives.
Tournament format calls for a single round robin for 12 teams, with the top eight advancing to the quarterfinals. In case of tie, a playoff game will be held only for the number eight seed.
In the quarterfinal round, the number one team plays no. 8, the no. 2 against no. 7, the no. 3 against no. 6 and the no. 4 against no. 5. The high seeds, meaning the nos. 1 to 4, need to win only once to make the semifinal round.
The Bolts suffered their fourth straight loss last Friday, falling prey to Blackwater, 94-91, with the latter leaning on a three-point shot by Paul Zamar in the dying seconds.
At 1-4, the Bolts are now hard-pressed to win more games they could in order to make the playoff round of the tournament where they were the losing finalists in the last two seasons.
Like the Gin Kings, the Elite will return to action in earnest today after that big win over Meralco, playing a winless Rain or Shine in the first game at 4:30 p.m.
The Elite will go for their sixth win in seven games which will keep them in solo second place behind the Gin Kings.