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PBA: Kings vs Bolts

Games Today
(Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. – TNT vs Rain or Shine
6:45 p.m. – Meralco vs Ginebra

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel would probably prefer to be more of a high-powered engine as it battles the Meralco Bolts tonight in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone expects his team to face a determined Meralco side eager to snap its two-game losing skid as both teams fight for a chance at a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals in their contest set at 6:45 p.m.

“We were like a diesel engine, it took a while to get started,” Cone said after Ginebra pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 96-82 victory over Blackwater at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.

“We played a horrible first half, I thought we were making silly fouls, lots of turnovers and we were lucky it was still a tie at halftime. But we kind of have a wake-up call at halftime and I thought we came out played a good third quarter,” he added.

Cone got the usual productions from import Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio, but also credited Aljon Mariano and veteran guard Mark Caguioa for their valuable contributions on both ends.

What worries Cone for today’s bid to tie the Star Hotshots for the lead at 8-2 is that Ginebra will face another durable import in Meralco’s Alex Stepheson after dealing with Blackwater’s Greg Smith who had 37 points and 18 rebounds.

But Stepheson is coming off a nine-point, 10-rebound performance in Wednesday’s loss to the Star Hotshots, his worst performance this conference.

“Stepheson is just a monster on the boards, and he’s coming off a tough game against Star, so we feel he’s gonna be ready and he’s gonna come back strong against us,” said Cone.

Meralco coach Norman Black, whose team needs to win its last elimination round assignment to remain in the hunt for the quarterfinal bonus, is worried of his team’s showing as of late after their struggles began last May 10 with a stunning defeat to the GlobalPort Batang Pier.

“The fact that we played poorly and the fact that my import is non-existent (against Star), that really concerns me moving forward,” said Black. “Because whether we have a twice-to-beat, whether it’s a best-of-three, we still have to play somebody in the quarterfinals. So we wanna go into the quarters playing good basketball, and in the last couple of games we played quite poorly, so we just have to find a way to turn it around.”

TNT KaTropa and Rain or Shine open the doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. The KaTropa look to keep their slim hopes of a twice-to-beat while the Elasto Painters try again to secure qualification for the quarters after falling 107-101 to GlobalPort last Friday.

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