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PBA: Gin Kings test Elite

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Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs GlobalPort
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Blackwater

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel hopes to deliver a much-improved showing this time as it braces for a strong challenge from Blackwater tonight in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Coach Tim Cone expects to see a better performance from his team in the 7 p.m. contest with the Elite, after the Kings almost fell victim to the upset-minded GlobalPort Batang Pier five days ago before escaping with a 104-97 win.

“We’re very leery of Blackwater,” Cone said. “They beat us up in a practice game before the start of the conference.

They have talented wings and have good size. We’ll need to be a lot better against them than what we were in our last game.”

Facing off in the 4:30 p.m. opener are the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and GlobalPort Batang Pier – teams which are looking up after contrasting starts to their respective campaigns.

Rain or Shine split its first two matches while GlobalPort hopes to arrest a 0-2 start.

Unbeaten after two games, Ginebra would climb into the solo lead with another victory, but is still dealing with injuries to key players Joe Devance and Sol Mercado. For now, the Kings will have to settle on their main stars LA Tenorio and PBA Press Corps Player of the Week Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar to carry the heavy load.

Tenorio has been the stabilizer for Ginebra in the absence of Devance and Mercado with averages of 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists while Slaughter has produced 21.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.

Containing Slaughter will be the main concern of Blackwater, which will rely mostly on Poy Erram, rookie Raymar Jose and former King Dave Marcelo in hopes of surviving the 7-footer.

Blackwater is also expected to get much of the offense from sophomore forward Mac Belo, Allein Maliksi and Mike DiGregorio.

Belo is coming off a career-high 25 points when the Elite posted a 92-87 win over the Elasto Painters last Dec. 29 at the Cuneta Astrodome.