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PBA: Ginebra wins 2 tuneup games

by Waylon Galvez

Games Tomorrow (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Air21 vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Alaska vs Talk ’N Text

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has won two tune-up matches with Leon Rodgers prompting point guard LA Tenorio to declare that the six-foot-seven import is what the doctor ordered for the team.

Rodgers had 38 points in the Kings’ 116-103 win over a stars-less San Mig Coffee yesterday at the Ronac gym in San Juan.

“He is a shooter. Although he’s the type of import na hindi nagpipilit kumuha ng points,” said Tenorio “He can create also for the team and most especially, he is a veteran leader na kailangan din ng team namin,” added Tenorio.

Against the Air21 Express last Sunday, Rodgers fired 29 points to lead Ginebra to a 103-95 triumph.

The 33-year-old onetime North Illinois stalwart once scored 66 points, including 15 three-pointers in a pro league in China in 2009.

It was the first meeting between Ginebra and San Mig Coffee since their tightly-fought semifinal series in the last conference.

Ginebra, which played sans 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar (plantar fascists) and 7-foot rookie center Greg Slaughter (food poison), got 23 points from veteran center JayR Reyes while sophomore forward Chris Ellis added 18 points and Tenorio had nine points.

The Mixers, the reigning Philippine Cup champions, lost three tune-up matches without their starters.

James Yap, Marc Pingris, PJ Simon, Joe Devance and Mark Barroca were all given a rest. Veteran center Rafi Reavis was present but did not play. Also absent was head coach Tim Cone. Assistant coach Jeff Cariaso called the shots for the Mixers.

San Mig import James Mayes scored 23 points, while reserve forward Val Acuna added 22 points and sophomore guard Alex Mallari had 16 points.

Two free throws by Mays trimmed the deficit to 99-93 with 4:55 to play.

However, the Kings answered with five straight points as Ellis converted a jump shot and then completed a three-point play to put Ginebra up, 104-93, with four minutes to go.

Ginebra will start its Commissioner’s Cup campaign on Friday when it battles Barako Bull at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, while San Mig plays Globalport on March 12 also at the Big Dome.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine resumed its practice session yesterday for the second conference at the North East Greenhills Gym in San Juan.

Head coach Yeng Guiao expressed confidence that the Elasto Painters are capable of making another playoff run with import Alex McLean.

“He’s an inside/outside player, a big man with an outside range, so he fits into the system,” said Guiao of the 6-foot-7 McLean, whom he likens to the smaller version of Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies.

“He’s a legit four (power forward) who can play the post, and can play the outside. It’s good that he was here early, he saw how we work and he’s learned our system. The only downside is we didn’t have any scrimmage against other teams, but I’m confident we’ll do well,” added Guiao.

The Elasto Painters will start their Commissioner’s Cup campaign on Sunday as they play the Energy Cola at the Araneta Coliseum.

The second conference of the PBA will start tomorrow at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City as Air21 takes on Globalport, which will have a new coach in Pido Jarencio, at 5:45 p.m. while Alaska opens its title-retention bid at 8 p.m. opposite Talk ’N Text.