(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Kia vs Rain or Shine
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Ginebra
After winning its first two games by an average margin of 26 points, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel wants to continue its rampage when it battles newcomer NLEX today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Showing no signs of the struggles endured during the preseason, the Kings are hungry to keep their unblemished record intact when they face off with the Road Warriors at 7 p.m.
In the 4:15 p.m. opener, Rain or Shine shoots for its second straight win against expansion club Kia Motors, which is reeling from its massive loss to Ginebra last Saturday in Lucena City.
Keen on winning its first PBA title since 2008, Ginebra opened the new season with a masterful 101-81 triumph over Talk ‘N Text last Oct. 19 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan before heading south to Quezon Province to post an 87-55 mauling of Kia.
In those two victories, Ginebra’s frontline duo of 7-foot center Greg Slaughter and 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar made most of the damage.
Aguilar torched TNT with 18 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, before collecting 16 points and 12 boards with three swats versus Kia.
As for Slaughter, he had 16 points and 12 rebounds opposite the Texters and finished with 16 points and 11 boards versus the Sorento.
Despite the impressive start, Ginebra Coach Jeff Cariaso feels they can still improve as a team, and the game against NLEX will somehow be a challenge for his Twin Tower as they take on NLEX’s ageless wonder Asi Taulava.
“We have to keep working hard, especially on defense, that is really our focus this conference,” said Cariaso. “Against NLEX, we expect it to be a tough game, this is a veteran team.”
NLEX is aching to get back on winning track after being ambushed by sister team TNT, 103-81 last Friday. That loss came after posting a come-from-behind 101-96 victory over Globalport.
Against TNT, the 41-year-old Taulava was limited to only 12 points and 13 rebounds, after scoring 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter while grabbing eight boards against Globalport.
NLEX is also eyeing to give coach Boyet Fernandez his first win since returning to the pro ranks.
Fernandez, who steered Sta Lucia to the 2008 Philippine Cup crown, made his formal debut against TNT after leading San Beda College to its fifth straight NCAA championship.