Philippine basketball

Ginebra set for last stand in PBA title defense

JR Isaga
Ginebra set for last stand in PBA title defense

LAST STAND. LA Tenorio is set to lead the Gin Kings' firepower after injuries haunting Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson.

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Defending champion Ginebra aims to stay on track toward their title hopes

Staying true to their “never say die” mantra, PBA Philippine Cup champion Barangay Ginebra snuck into the 2021 playoffs at the last possible moment to defend their crown.

However, the path doesn’t get any smoother for the eighth-seeded squad with a 4-7 record as they immediately face the twice-to-beat TNT Tropang Giga on Wednesday, September 29, at 6 pm.

Bannering a fully healthy squad led by super rookie Mikey Williams, the Chot Reyes-coached team now aims to seek revenge for last year’s finals loss with a quick boot to last year’s bubble kings.

On the other hand, Ginebra’s firepower is down to its last few shells of ammo after untimely injury bug bites to stars Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar.

In other quarterfinal brackets, the twice-to-beat Meralco Bolts will start the week with a Wednesday, 3pm match against sister team NLEX Road Warriors.

Likely without B. League import Kiefer Ravena for good, NLEX coach Yeng Guiao will have to lean on old reliables, and possibly expect another scoring eruption from rookie Calvin Oftana to stay alive.

Speaking of survival, the NorthPort Batang Pier will have to steady their emotions after their last-second Game 1 loss to survive the onslaught of talent brought by the San Miguel Beermen.

Robert Bolick will need another clutch performance for the ages while Greg Slaughter will have to continue his stellar anchor work against longtime Cebuano rival June Mar Fajardo.

Following that match on Thursday, September 30, at 2 pm is another potential series-ending game at 4:35 pm between the Magnolia Hotshots and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

Leading BPC candidate Calvin Abueva aims to cement his place on top of the leaderboard by helping take down a ROS side that boasts improving young guns like Javee Mocon and Santi Santillan.

With the defending champions hanging on by a thread in this year’s All-Filipino tilt, other contenders are raring to step up and take the lead.

But only time will tell if the Gin Kings’ luck will indeed eventually run out.

If necessary, they will have another do-or-die battle against TNT on Friday, October 1, 3 pm, along with a possible Game 2 at 6pm between Meralco and NLEX. –