(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. -- Blackwater vs. Magnolia
7 p.m. -- Ginebra vs . NLEX
JUSTIN Brownlee and his Barangay Ginebra Kings have seen it all in their past two PBA Governors' Cup championship runs in 2016 and 2017.
Twice they had to overcome the Meralco Bolts and two-time Best Import winner Allen Durham in the finals, winning 4-2 in 2016 and 4-3 in 2017.
In 2016, Brownlee nailed the championship-clinching three-point shot that secured Ginebra’s 91-88 win over Meralco and the franchise’s first title since 2008.
And last year, Brownlee and LA Tenorio teamed up to lead Ginebra to its second straight title with a 101-96 win over Meralco in Game 7 before a record attendance at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
So it’s no longer a surprise that Brownlee is bracing for a tough challenge against No. 8 seed NLEX in the quarterfinals tonight and either No. 4 Magnolia or No. 5 Blackwater in the semis.
Ginebra enjoys twice-to-beat advantage over NLEX
“I’m sure it’s gonna be tough, even tougher than the previous two (championship runs in the Governors' Cup),” said Brownlee after Ginebra slammed.the door on Talk N Text, 122-93, last Sunday and finished with a league-best 9-2 win-loss record at the end of the elimnations.
Although already assured of the top seed following Phoenix's 97-81 win over Blackwater earlier in the day, Ginebra still went all out to beat Talk N Text with Brownlee delivering a triple double of 31 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
Greg Slaughter also had big numbers against the Tropang Texters in his second game back since returning from injury and should provide a big lift for Ginebra.
“It was nice to have that game to prepare for the playoffs.It's just good that I can be aggressive inside and draw a lot of fouls,” said the 7-0 Slaughter, who scored 25 points against the Texters.
For Ginebra coach Tim Cone, the real work also begins with the start of the playoffs.
“The real hard work starts now. There’s no easy way in the playoffs. It’s always a tough route whoever you play against,” said Cone.
But NLEX will enter the court with a 5-6 win-loss that included a shock 101-107 loss to import-less Rain or Shine.last Nov. 3.
In the 4:30 p.m. curtainraiser, Magnolia also guns for an outright semis seat when it meets Blackwater.
Like the Gin Kings, the Hotshots enjoy twice-to-beat advantage against the Elite to make the next round.
Actually, the Hotshots finished in a tie with Phoenix and Alaska Milk with an 8-3 slate, but secured No. 4 seed after the tie-break.
The Hotshots are also favored to beat the Elite, judging from their 133-99 win last Oct. 10.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, however, downplayed their lopsided victory.
“Nakaraan na iyung game na iyon,” said Victolero. :What we need to focus on is tomorrow’s game dahil there’s nothing more dangerous than a desperate team.”
The other quarterfinals matchups will pit No. 2 Phoenix against No. 7 Meralco, and No. 3 Alaska against No. 6 San Miguel Beer.
These four teams take the floor on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.