Barangay Ginebra is currently on cloud nine in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup after seizing solo first place in the standings following their hard-earned 83-79 win over TNT Tropang Giga last Friday, November 6.
On the other hand, the five-time defending conference champion San Miguel Beermen have hit rock bottom after absorbing a 34-point blowout loss in their last game against the middling NLEX Road Warriors, as a result of resting a banged-up Marcio Lassiter.
With these rivaling sister teams featuring in a marquee matchup on Sunday, November 8, Ginebra head coach Tim Cone is now bracing for the impact of San Miguel’s pent-up anger.
“If you can see behind this mask, I’m smiling, because to think that San Miguel is in a slump… they’re never in a slump,” he said after their TNT win.
“And the reason I’m smiling is because I can’t think of a worse time to play them after they got beat badly by another opponent. That’s absolutely the worst time to play San Miguel,” he continued.
“We’re not looking forward to it, but it’s a challenge and we’re going to try to take it on.”
Already missing the services of 6-time reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, and 2019 Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP Terrence Romeo, the weary Beermen held out Lassiter against NLEX after he suffered a right calf strain.
Now slumping with a 5-4 record, and a two-game losing streak, San Miguel will need their veteran sniper’s services more than ever, but the 33-year-old’s playing status remains in doubt.
Meanwhile, the Gin Kings are hitting their stride, both chemistry- and health-wise, after “Iron Man” LA Tenorio churned out season-highs of 15 points, and 9 assists against TNT – his 650th straight game.
With full playmaking duties again off his shoulders, super scorer Stanley Pringle is having the time of his life on the offensive end, while Japeth Aguilar keeps chugging along as a steady force on both sides of the floor.
Despite having the upper hand for now, Cone is not taking the thinned-out San Miguel roster for granted, and for good reason.
“They’re going through maybe a little bit of a hard time without June Mar and without Terrence. That has really made a big hit to their depth,” he said. “Depth really is a huge value to a team right now because of how quickly the games come, and you really want to go deep into your lineups.”
“But if they get a couple of days to rest, and they get everything, get their legs back, they’re the best team out there.” – Rappler.com