By WAYLON GALVEZ
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, a team on a roll with six straight victories, tries to move closer from earning one of two twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinal round when it takes on San Mig Super Coffee in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Holding a 9-1 card, Ginebra hopes to make it two in a row against San Mig when they collide at 5:15 p.m. after the 3 p.m. game between Rain or Shine and Globalport.
The Elasto Painters aim to avenge their own first round setback to the Batang Pier.
On opening day of the 39th season last Nov. 17, Ginebra demolished San Mig, 86-69, with the Mixers then just two weeks removed from their successful title run in the last Governors’ Cup.
In that game, Japeth Aguilar collected 18 points with eight rebounds and five blocks, while LA Tenorio added 17 points and 10 assists and debuting top rookie pick Greg Slaughter 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The story of that game though was reserve forward Dylan Ababou, the former Smart Gilas Pilipinas member who came off the bench to unload 16 points in the second half as Ginebra turned a close game into a blowout with a big fourth quarter run.
The Kings outscored the Mixers, 28-14, in the fourth quarter.
Ginebra, however, started slow during that game, falling behind 34-42, at halftime break, which is something coach Ato Agustin said they cannot afford to do this time as he expects San Mig to work harder, not just to avenge that loss but to fan its own playoff bid.
The Tim Cone-mentored San Mig is in a tie for eighth spot with Meralco on 3-7 records. The Mixers are on a two-game skid after losing big against Rain or Shine (101-77) last Dec. 29.
Agustin hasn’t forgotten the game.
“We started bad when we first played San Mig,” said Agustin.
“That’s why I reminded the players that we have to start strong and finish strong. San Mig lost its previous two games, they had two bad games. So we expect them to come out strong. For us, kahit na nasa lead kami hindi kami pwede mag-relax.
“Kung manalo kami against San Mig, baka malapit na namin makuha ‘yung twice-to-beat. Pero ang kailangan talaga is ‘wag mawala sa focus. I’m very happy sa tinatakbo ng team, so sana lang ma-sustain namin. It’s a team effort, kaya kailangan pagtrabahuhan ng lahat,” Agustin added.
Equally exciting is the game between Rain or Shine and Globalport, which Globalport won (90-88) when the two teams clashed last Dec. 8. In that game, Jay Washington and Sol Mercado each scored 20 points, with the former completing a double-double effort with 13 boards.
The Batang Pier, however, have dropped their last three assignments, the last one a 108-95 overtime loss to Barako Bull last Dec. 29 that gave them a 4-7 record for solo seventh place in the standings.
The Elasto Painters, on the other hand, are on three-game streak following key wins – dealing the previously unbeaten Petron Blaze its first defeat this conference with a 99-95 OT win, and beating Barako Bull 99-95 last Dec. 27 and then San Mig.
The three wins put Rain or Shine at solo third with a 7-3 slate, and in strong contention for a twice-to-beat incentive. Beau Belga, after missing two games with the measles, will return to action after joining the team’s practice session last Thursday.