Barangay Ginebra San Miguel aims for a fourth victory today when it takes on Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) at 5 p.m. in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
The Gin Kings are keen to keep the momentum they’ve gained from dealing reigning champion San Miguel Beer its first defeat (100-96) in six games.
Barangay Ginebra, carrying 3-3 win-loss record, is expected to rely anew on playmaker LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar who finished with 23 points each in their last game against the Beermen.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone is telling his players to treat their match against NLEX as a “big game.”
“Big game for us to see if we can create some much needed momentum this conference. It is important for us not to relax after beating San Miguel Beer. We have to keep our energy and intensity up. Slaughter will return to the line-up with a minute restriction as he continues to work himself back to shape,” said Cone.
Prior to Slaughter’s hamstring injury, he is averaging 20.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in three games.
Ginebra, meanwhile, signed the 6’7 unrestricted free agent Prince Caperal this week to reinforce its depleted frontline. Caperal became an unrestricted free agent after Kia reactivated Russel Escote who just recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
After starting the season with a 2-0, the Road Warriors suffered a four-game losing skid. NLEX (2-4) was just behind tail ender Kia (1-6). It is now up to rookie Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Jay-R Quinahan and Alex Mallari to break the slump.
Ravena, who is averaging 17.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists in six games, said he is excited to play against Ginebra.
“Ginebra is one of the best teams in this league. They have the best crowd and I’m very excited to play with them especially against LA (Tenorio), one of the best point guards,” said Ravena, the league’s second overall rookie pick this season behind San Miguel Beer’s top pick Christian Standhardinger.
“We are going to get our hands full once again just like every other game. We need to focus and we need to wake up,” he added.
The Ginebra – NLEX match was supposed to be held in Legazpi City in Albay but the venue was moved to Cuneta Astrodome because of the eruption of Mayon volcano.