THEY always give their best whenever they meet in what is popularly known as the Manila Clasico – a rivalry of sort between two of the most popular ballclubs in the PBA.
It’s no different today when Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia meet in another episode of their PBA rivalry at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
However, their 6:45 p.m. duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum is expected to draw the best of the sister teams, especially since the two ballclubs have contrasting goals in the Philippine Cup.
The Gin Kings are looking to clinch one of the four victories they must pull off for a possible shot at top two after the 11-game elimination.
“We’ve had another long week of anticipation getting ready for this game. It’s never too hard getting up for the Manila Clasico,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
The Gin Kings have been hot and cold in the kickoff conference, but they nevertheless go into the game riding on the momentum of their 100-97 spanking of league-leading Phoenix Fuel last March 10.
This is going to be the first encounter between the sister teams since Magnolia knocked Ginebra out of the semifinal picture in the Governors’ Cup last season, and Cone said they could feel something urgent in their game against the Hotshots.
“The buzz around the stadium is always a little louder and you can feel the energy of the fans and the crowd,” said Cone.
“So it’s a game we’ve been looking forward to. We know there will be a great battle,” added Cone.
At 4-3, the Gin Kings are still in contention for top two that offer luxury of having to win only once in the quarterfinals to advance right way to the semis.
However, they need to sweep their last four outings to gain the possibility of tying one of two teams in the upper half of the standings.
The good thing too about the Gin Kings’ chance is that they have defeated Phoenix (100-97, March 10) and Talk ‘N Text (90-79, Jan. 13), but lost to San Miguel Beer (99-91, Jan. 20), and to Rain or Shine (83-80, Jan 26).
The quotient system will be used to resolve ties.
The Hotshots have no more chances for the top two, but they are expected to play cautiously just the same in their bid to be included in the 8-team quarterfinal round.
The Hotshots are toting a 3-4 slate. They won their last two outings – 109-83 over Columbian Dyip last March 13, and 103-86 over Alaska last March 9.
NLEX and Blackwater collide in the first tussle at 4:30 p.m., with the Road Warriors badly needing a win to stay alive. The Road Warriors are carrying a 3-5 record, while the Elite are at the bottom of the standings with 2-7 record.