As Barangay Ginebra reaches the halfway point of the elimination phase unstable with identical three wins and three losses, there is no room for complacency and hangover, may it be a championship or holiday hangover, this time, as they mesh with the reigning conference champion and league-leader San Miguel for the main event of today’s PBA Philippine Cup in Smart-Araneta Coliseum, 6:45 p.m.
But in the six-game stretch of the GinKings, they’ve showed some semblance of what they were last season, a champion team, the latest against their rival Star Hotshots after dominating them during the Christmas Day behind the star-like performance of Japeth Aguilar. Despite eliminating the Beermen in the semifinals of last season’s Governors’ Cup in five grueling games, Barangay Ginebra should still be wary, especially now that San Miguel looks lethal and dangerous again after emerging victorious in their last five games.
Coach Tim Cone’s squad will have a gargantuan task of yet again, containing June Mar Fajardo as the three-time league MVP posts league-high’s in points and assists department, enough to lead the pack of Best Player of the Conference contenders with 44.2 statistical points But Japeth Aguilar is not the one to be left behind as he serves as the bellwether of Ginebra after norming 20.33 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.67 swats per game.
The 6-foot-9 slot man also added another weapon on his arsenal by being more consistent from the perimeter, particularly in the three-point territory. On the flip side, San Miguel will be playing their second game this week. Against Blackwater last Friday, they showed complete dominance that propelled them to clinch the first quarterfinals ticket. What’s scarier for the Leo Austria-mentored team is that it is not only Fajardo who can give a lift for the team as Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Ronald Tubid can explode anytime to bestow support.
If Ginebra happens to take down San Miguel, they can get out of the jam in the lower part of the rankings and improve their record to 4-3 to share Phoenix and KaTropa in the top 4. However, a loss in this game would mean a smaller chance at the twice to beat advantage.