Defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT KaTropa seek a quick entry to the semifinal round with a victory over their respective rivals on Wednesday in the quarterfinal stage of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Gin Kings, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage after finishing third in the elims, meet No. 6 and grand slam-seeker San Miguel Beer at 7 p.m. while the No. 2 KaTropa collide against No. 7 Rain or Shine in the first game at 4:15 p.m.
Ginebra and TNT need to need to win once to advance to the best-of-five semifinal round.
The Gin Kings ended the elims with an ugly 92-121 loss to KaTropa but expect the team of head coach Tim Cone to bounce back strong against the Beermen, who are trying to stay alive and keep their grandslam bid afloat.
Ginebra will be banking on Justin Brownlee (with averages of 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists), Greg Slaughter (14.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5), Joe Devance, LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar.
San Miguel stays upbeat despite facing a tough task of winning two in a row against Ginebra to stay alive in the conference.
The Beermen, who are coming off a painful 101-104 loss to Meralco, beat Ginebra in their lone elimination face off, 107-103.
“We are just disappointed to what happened in our last game in the elimination because we didn’t secure the twice-to-beat bonus, but the chance is still there. We just have to take one game at a time,” said Beermen mentor Leo Austria.
“We’re 0-3 in the finals before and there were many times that we’re in a twice-to-beat disadvantage,” added Austria, referring to their historic comeback from a 0-3 series deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title over Alaska in 2015.
Three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo has fully recovered from a leg injury recently and is averaging 18.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and two blocks for San Miguel.
TNT, meanwhile, is not taking Rain or Shine lightly although it has a twice-to-beat incentive in their encounter.
Import Glen Rice, Jr., who is averaging 32.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists, will lead the charge of KaTropa against the Elasto Painters.
Curiously, Rice’s PBA debut was against Rain or Shine and absorbed a 73-105 loss with Gilas players Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario not in the roster due to commitment with the national team.
“Lost to them to eliminations. No Gilas players then, but both teams have completed line up now. Hopefully the result will be different this time,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.
Rain or Shine finished the elimination round with a 122-98 win over Blackwater behind J’Nathan Bullock’s 30 points.
Fajardo leads MVP race
Fajardo is leading the race for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) after emerging No. 1 in the statistical category of the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
The 27-year old Fajardo amassed 37.9 statistical points (SPs) after the elimination phase and to move closer for a sixth BPC award and a possible historic fourth straight Most Valuable Player (MVP) plum.
Also in contention for the BPC race are Meralco’s Chris Newsome (33.2), Ginebra’s Greg Slaugher (33.), Beerman Arwin Santos (32.27) and TNT’s Jayson Castro (33.2).