Kings eye No.6

October 04, 2018

Games today:

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4: 35 p.m. -- Blackwater vs. Meralco

7 p.m.--Ginebra vs . NLEX

DESPITE  an injury-plagued campaign that  saw most of its top stars miss  some time, defending champion  Barangay Ginebra is off to a conference-best 5-1 start  in  a tie with sister tean Magnolia.

Only a 118-124 setback to Blackwater  last Sept. 21 prevented the Gin  Kings and coach Tim Cone from  putting together a dream start in the  season-ending conference which  they have won the past two seasons.

A  major  reason  for  this near-perfect start is import Justin Brownlee, who is averaging a league-best 35.0 points a game and team-highs of 13.1  rebounds and 6. 1 assists in all  six games so far

Today,  Brownlee and the still injury-saddled Gin Kings look to extend their winning ways and wrest solo lead anew when they meet unpredictable  NLEX in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But the Gin Kings have to do it against the Warriors in the 7 p.m. encounter minus another  key contributor, Joe de Vance.

“We have another tough back-to-back this weekend with NLEX and Meralco. NLEX has been very good and  efficient offensively and we’ll  have to figure a way to defend them,” said Cone.

“But injuries continue to hound us  with  Joe Devance now out for  the   next  3-4  weeks.We’re hoping  Japeth  (Aguilar) can  join us for this weekend, and Greg (Slaughter) and Sol (Mercado)  are just around   the  corner in terms of  returning to the lineup,” added Cone.

Devance  was  one of the players who delivered clutch plays when the Gin  Kings outsteadied Phoenix, 101-99, in  Cagayan de Oro City last Sept 29.

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao admitted  Ginebra  remains hard to beat  even  with  a  depleted line-up.

“They’re good. Guys have  been stepping up big time for them,” said Guiao.

Another  team  enjoying  a red-hot start is Blackwater,  which swept its first five games before losing 108-124 to NLEX last Sept. 28

Import  William  Henry Walker averages  team-high  27.4 points a game for the Elite, but was limited to only  16 points on a dismal  6-of-17 shooting againt the Road Warriors.

Walker and the Elite will now try to get back on the winning track when  they  collide with a Meralco team which just returned to the country  following a fourth-place finish in the FIBA Asia Champions’  Cip in Thaiand last Tuesday.

“Meralco’s standings is 1-3. Bad  start for them, but they are one of  the expected  strong teams this conference. But If Meralco will be able to regroup they are really strong,” Blackwater coach Bong Ramos.

Meralco, losing finalists to Ginebra in  the last two editions of the  conferences,  is   on  a   three-game slide.

The  Norman Black-mentored Bolts, however,   will continue to play  minus Jared Dillinger and Ranidel de Ocampo.

In their places are  reigning back-to-back Best Import Allen Durham, Chris  Newsome and Cliff Hodge.