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PBA: Manila Clasico

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – GlobalPort vs NLEX
6:45 p.m. – Star vs Ginebra

Ginebra, Star renew PBA rivalry.

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel hopes to pass the first test of a difficult stretch of games as it battles the Star Hotshots in their so-called “Manila Clasico” showdown today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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The 6:45 p.m. contest will perhaps determine whether the Gin Kings, in a joint tie with the idle Meralco Bolts for the top spot at 5-1, can indeed be a serious threat to the San Miguel Beermen’s quest for a Grand Slam and defend the third conference title they won last season.

Star is the first of a five-game period that will see Ginebra face teams in the playoff hunt.

After tonight’s battle, Ginebra faces Blackwater on Friday, San Miguel next Sunday, Rain or Shine on Sept. 16 and TNT KaTropa on Sept. 23.

“Our test comes a little stronger right now to see if what we’re doing can carry over to the good teams, to the really powerful teams in the league starting with Star,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.

Ginebra will welcome a new face in forward Raymond Aguilar, who was acquired from Blackwater in exchange for Chris Ellis and Dave Marcelo. Art de la Cruz, other player received in the deal, is still nursing an Achilles tendon and is expected to be out for the rest of the conference.

Import Justin Brownlee and locals Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson hope to delight their fans anew and gain the solo lead in the eliminations.

Out to spoil that bid are the Hotshots, out to bounce back from a 92-88 loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters the previous Sunday.

The setback was Star’s first after winning its first four games, and coach Chito Victolero’s concern now is to map out a strategy in neutralizing Ginebra’s bigs.

“I think kailangan lang namin mag-isip ng preparation sa big guys, especially yung twin towers nila (Slaughter and Aguilar) plus si Brownlee,” Victolero said after last week’s loss.

In the first game, NLEX seeks its seventh win in nine games against GlobalPort, on a high after a 119-112 win over TNT KaTropa two days ago at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

A victory will boost NLEX’s quest to gain a top four spot and a twice-to-beat advantage. The Road Warriors are coming off a 101-97 win over the Beermen.

The Batang Pier are eager to upset the Road Warriors and gain ground in their own quest to move in the top four.