By JONAS TERRADO
Defending champion Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer square off Friday in a key PBA Philippine Cup encounter between two of the league’s title favorites at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Gin Kings and the Beermen meet in the final match of the triple bill at 6 p.m. as the two heavyweight squads aim to boost their respective title bids at this point of the conference.
SMB is in fourth place at 4-2 while Ginebra is dealing with a 3-3 record for seventh place in a campaign coach Tim Cone has described as “herky-jerky.”
Both San Miguel Corporation squads are coming off bounce-back victories two days earlier after they were handed shock defeats by the underdog Terrafirma Dyip.
SMB handed TNT its first defeat of the conference with an 83-67 triumph while Ginebra eked out an 83-77 win over Rain or Shine.
Both teams from San Miguel Corporation will parade their talent-laden roster in a battle that will also have bragging rights at stake.
Beermen coach Leo Austria will parade Terrence Romeo, one of the main figures in SMB’s rout of TNT, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa.
Ginebra will look to counter with LA Tenorio, Christian Standhardinger, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Stanley Pringle.
TNT tries to redeem itself from the SMB defeat when it faces NLEX at 3 p.m.
Despite the setback, the Tropang Giga are still on top at 6-1, but will need the likes of Mikey Williams and Jayson Castro to overcome their struggles the last time.
NLEX is also hungry to win at the expense of its sister team from the MVP Group after blowing a 16-point lead in the fourth before losing 113-106 in double overtime to Magnolia.
Magnolia, holding second spot at 6-2, goes for another victory and possibly gain top spot with a TNT loss in the 12:30 p.m. opener with Rain or Shine.
Rain or Shine has dropped two in a row for sixth place at 4-4.