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(USEP Gym, Davao City)
5 p.m. – Ginebra vs Phoenix
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel finally makes its much-anticipated debut when it takes on the struggling Phoenix Fuel Masters today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the University of Southeastern Philippines gym in Davao City.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone expressed confidence that undersized import Justin Brownlee would be a great fit for Ginebra in the 5 p.m. Petron Saturday Special match-up that kicks off the crowd favorite’s first game of the conference, almost a month after losing to the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Cup finals.
Ginebra opted to bring back the 6-foot-7 Brownlee, the beloved hero who gave the Gin Kings their first title in eight years on a buzzer-beating three in last season’s Governors’ Cup finals, instead of maximizing the height limit of 6-foot-10
Even with 7-foot center Greg Slaughter still out with an injury, Cone stressed that having Brownlee gives them the advantage, instead of being at a disadvantage.
“His size might be a bonus rather than a detriment. He can play like a big guy but he still has the versatility of a little guy and I think he’s going to be a tough matchup for the other teams,” said Cone.
Brownlee rejoined the team shortly after playing for Mighty Sports Philippines in the Dubai Invitational Basketball Tournament, and said that he’s up for the challenge of facing bigger imports.
Ginebra may play without Sol Mercado, who on Wednesday tweaked his knee while colliding with Mark Caguioa, while Joe Devance is expected to play despite some foot issues that has bugged him since last conference.
The game will also mark the latest homecoming of Ginebra’s rising star Scottie Thompson, the Digos-born guard who hopes to dazzle in front of his family, friends and fellow Dabawenyos.
Phoenix currently has a 1-2 record after falling to Star, 101-82, last March 22, and a humiliating 134-109 setback to TNT KaTropa last Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Import Jameel McKay looks to atone for his struggles against TNT while the locals are out to redeem themselves from that two setbacks.