Kings, elite part ways

September 21, 2018

Games today

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4:30 p.m. --Columbian vs. San Miguel 

7 p.m.-- Blackwater vs. Ginebra

FOR  Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, the coming weekend where  his team plays Blackwater and San Miguel Beer will provide a good challenge.

“It will be a tough weekend for us to get through,” said Cone on the eve of the Gin Kings’ much-awaited battle against fellow unbeaten Blackwater in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“It’s been a long break, we’re battling injuries, and we’re playing a hot team in Blackwater followed by SMB,” added Cone as the Gin Kings look forward for today’s 7 p.m. encounter against an Elite team which survived three major tests to earn an unfamiliar spot at the top of the 12-team standings.

The winner of the Ginebra-Blackwater encounter will gain the solo lead in the season-ending tournament, and Cone is simply too happy to have  Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson return healthy from their stints with the PBA-backed Philippine teams to the Asian Games and the FIBA World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.

“Our injury list is long at this point  -- Greg Slaughter, Joe Devance, Sol Mercado, Jervy Cruz, Julian Sargent, Raymond Aguilar, Art dela Cruz. Thankfully, Japeth and Scottie came back to us healthy and ready to go,” said Cone in an interview posted at the official PBA website.

“We will lean on them to push us through these back-to-back games. When it  gets tough, the  tough gets going. We’ll see if we can live up to that,” he added.

Cone’s counterpart, Bong Ramos of Blackwater, is just as excited to see how far his team can go, especially after the team posted its  franchise-best 3-0  start.

“The win against NorthPort was a test of character for the team,” said  Ramos after  the Elite’s 113-111 come-from-behind win over the Batang Pier last Wednesday.

The Elite shrugged off an early18-point deficit and kept their poise in the face of the Batang Pier’s unrelenting pressure to win.

“They really want to get a third win tonight. They want to face Ginebra on Friday (today) coming off a win,” said Ramos. “It’s a character-building and test (for us).”

Interestingly, Ginebra’s last win also came against NorthPort,104-98, last Sept. 5.

As interesting will be the battle between PBA Best Import awardee Justine Brownlee  of Ginebra and six-year-NBA veteran Henry Walker.

Blackwater is also getting consistent numbers from JP Erram, Mike Digregorio, John Pinto, Mac Belo and Chris Javier.

In the 4:30 p.m. curtainraiser, San Miguel  hopes  to rebound from a stunning 100-103 loss to Blackwater when it  plays winless Columbian Dyip.

Led by former Best Import winner AZ Reid, San   Miguel routed  NLEX, 125-112,  last Sept 1, before the loss to Blackwater.

The Dyip,on the other hand,  are still winless in  five games.

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