By REYNALD MAGALLON
Defending champion Barangay Ginebra opens its title defense in the season-ending conference against Rain or Shine in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, Feb.5.
Already settled after their Commissioner’s Cup conquest where they slew the mighty Bay Area Dragons, the Kings are back in business and more than ready to take on the challenge of the rest of the league, first from the hungry Elasto Painters in the main event at 6:45 p.m.
A marquee duel between the surging San Miguel and the surprisingly still winless Magnolia also serves as the curtain raiser in the opening game at 4:30 p.m.
Justin Brownlee, the conference’s reigning Best Import is expected to lead the charge anew for Ginebra as he hopes to jumpstart their bid to return to the promised land and possibly, his record-setting seventh title on a winning note.
Christian Standhardinger, LA Tenorio, Jamie Malonzo and MVP frontrunner Scottie Thompson should also be determined to get back to their winning ways after experiencing the high of bagging the championship.
Out to give them a rude welcome though are the Elasto Painters who are still looking for the elusive first win in the tournament.
Rain or Shine was coming off a tough 112-98 loss at the hands of the league-leading Converge last Thursday, Feb. 2. Michael Qualls has been providing solid numbers for the Elasto Painters but will also need more contribution from his supporting crew.
What’s also lacking for Rain or Shine so far in the season is their tenacity on the defensive end – ironically an aspect where most of Yeng Guiao’s squads usually thrives on – giving up over a hundred points in the three losses so far.
Meanwhile in the opening game, San Miguel looks to keep its rousing start to the conference going against Magnolia which is also still looking to find its groove.
Head coach Jorge Gallent, despite the Hotshots’ 0-2 record, believes that the game will be the Beermen’s first real test in the conference especially after a hectic schedule that saw them playing for the fourth time in a week span.