Barangay Ginebra will be gunning for its sixth victory when it clashes against rival Talk ‘N Text today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings will face the Tropang Texters in the second game at 7 p.m. after the 4:15 p.m. match between the Blackwater Elite and the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
“It’s the homestretch so obviously every game is crucial at this point,” veteran coach Tim Cone of Ginebra said. “We play a couple of elite teams which makes our road a little tougher, but we’ll have the opportunity to learn about ourselves and prepare for the playoffs.”
Ginebra, with a 5-3 win-loss record and presently tied with Alaska in the third to fourth spots, previously defeated Phoenix (102-101) in Panabo, Davao Del Norte.
Besides import Othyus Jeffers and playmaker LA Tenorio, the Gin Kings will bank on the seven-footer Greg Slaughter, Joe Devance, the 6’9 Japeth Aguilar, Solomon Mercado, Chris Ellis, Mark Caguioa and Jay Jay Helterbrand, to sustain their winning run.
Talk ‘N Text is expected to come out stronger against Ginebra with the 6’10 import David Simon who averaged 25.5 points, 17. 7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in four games. Local players Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, Jeth Troy Rosario and Moala Tautuaa will support him.
The Tropang Texters, under coach Jong Uichico are currently sharing the fifth to eighth spots with Northern Luzon Expressway, Mahindra and Rain or Shine that are also carrying similar 4-4 win-loss records.
Meanwhile, Blackwater and Phoenix are both aiming to halt a two-game losing skid.
“The goal is to get at least three victories in our last four games to have a better chance in the playoff round,” said Phoenix coach Koy Banal. “The game against Blackwater is so crucial for us. I believe the players will give their best in this game.”
Import Kevin Pinkney, point guard Josh Urbiztondo, swingman JC Intal, Mac Baracael, Willie Wilson and guard Ryan Roose Garcia, will lead the Fuel Masters’ charge.
JOSEF T. RAMOS