Barangay Ginebra is bracing for a killer stretch starting Sunday when the streaking Kings take on defending champion San Miguel Beer in the main game of the PBA Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Kings are on a roll as of late, having won their third straight game after administering a 107-95 beating against Blackwater Elite last Wednesday.
Coach Tim Cone said he’s happy with the fact that everyone in his team has started to embrace the team-first, defense-first concept he has been preaching this season.
“Everybody’s passing the ball, even the so-called superstars in our team. Mark (Caguioa) is passing the ball, Japeth (Aguilar) is passing the ball, it’s a lot of fun to watch and coach this team,” said Cone, whose team collides with the Beermen at 6:45 p.m.
“But we’re a defense-first team and I think that’s where the buy in kicks in, while we’re able to put some wins together,” he added.
The American coach said the next few games will give him an idea how they could take adversity since the Beermen are no pushovers.
After SMB, Ginebra will take on Rain or Shine on Aug. 21, Star on Aug. 28, before clashing with giant-killer Mahindra (Sept. 9).
“Now we go to a tough stretch of the game because we play San Miguel, Rain or Shine, Star and then Mahindra so we’ll just gonna see if we can take the challenge and see what we can do with those guys,” shared Cone, whose team shares second spot with Mahindra at 4-1.
On the other hand, SMB coach Leo Austria said the long, 2-week break allowed some of his players to heal from their injuries, while giving them time to prepare for Ginebra.
“Talagang pinagha-handaan namin yun kasi itong mga teams naman sa PBA, not only Ginebra, every team especially kapag kami ang kalaban, well-prepared sila eh. That’s what we notice eh, so every game for us is really tough,” explained Austria.
The Beermen, currently toting a 3-1 card, beat the Hotshots, 109-100 on July 31.
San Miguel will welcome back veteran forward Arwind Santos, who missed the team’s first 4 games due to a minor knee surgery.
The “Spiderman” though won’t play heavy minutes in his first game this conference. Backup big man Gabby Espinas might also see action since being sidelined with a knee injury as well. – Richard Dy
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