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3 p.m. – Mahindra vs Blackwater
5:15 p.m. – Ginebra vs Star
It’s the season of giving, but don’t expect Star and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to give in this Christmas Day.
In a match up that could later have playoff repercussions, the streaking Hotshots and the Kings clash in what is expected to be an exciting yet crucial encounter in the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round today at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
This will only be the second time that the PBA will play at the said venue, and first since it hosted the opening day during the 2014 Season, reason why expectations are high for this Star-Ginebra collision.
The game is scheduled at 5 p.m., right after the 3 p.m. match between Blackwater and Mahindra.
Star is on a streak as – after losing its first two games – it won its last three assignments including a 99-91 victory over Rain or Shine where Paul Lee got the best from his former team with 14 points.
A win by the Hotshots against the Kings will move the team up to joint second to fifth places with the Blackwater Elite, the TNT KaTropa and the Elasto Painters all at 4-2.
Star coach Chito Victolero, however, understands how difficult it is to play Ginebra especially after the Kings dropped their previous game in a blowout 86-101 setback to the Alaska Aces last week.
“Always tough playing Ginebra. They have a mixture of veterans and young players, a solid frontline and backcourt rotations. Of course, they have coach Tim Cone,” said the rookie head coach Victolero, who took over from Jason Webb before the start of the season.
“I hope that we can give Ginebra a good fight, and praying as well for us to get the win para naman masaya ang fans namin and also family ngayong pasko,” added Victolero.
Ginebra, on the other hand, is on a roller coaster ride.
After losing to TNT (103-108), the team won against RoS (91-74), but faltered versus GlobalPort (84-91). Ginebra recovered by beating lowly Mahindra (89-70) and then came that sound beating from Alaska.
One thing going for the Kings is their 8-1 record on Christmas Day – the only loss came during the All-Filipino Cup in 2006 (104-115). Counting this game, no other team has played more than five on Christmas Day.
In comparison, this will only be the fifth for the Star on Christmas Day. Ginebra defeated – and in the process eliminated – Star when the two teams clashed in a quarterfinal game last Christmas Day.
“Christmas Day games are always difficult to play because,” said Ginebra mentor Tim Cone. “Of all the distractions that go on, there is a lot of honor in playing the game. We are blessed to have this opportunity.”
“Add to the fact that it’s the Manila Classico, and being held at the Philippine Arena, it makes this year’s edition especially exciting. It would be great to reward our fans with our best effort and finish the year with a win,” he added.
The backcourt match up is something to watch as Lee, Mark Barroca and Star’s rookie ace Jio Jalalon will face Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Solomon Mercado.