It’s that time of the year again.
The most anticipated match in the elimination round is finally on.
Christmas Day, at one of the largest stadiums in the world.
It couldn’t get better than this.
The Star Hotshots and Barangay Ginebra will once again battle for pride and for the fans.
The Hotshots are dead set for revenge, a payback from a stunning loss last year.
While Barangay Ginebra aims a repeat of last season’s miracle win.
Manila Clasico is upon us.
Down by 18 points in the last six minutes of the regulation, Barangay Ginebra has managed to climb back from the dead by forcing an overtime and eventually win it, capped off by a three-pointer from LA Tenorio.
Fast forward to today, a couple of changes has happened that can either add spice to the rivalry or make it less interesting.
James Yap-less Clasico:
Probably the most shocking change during the off-season was the break-up of Purefoods and James Yap.
Minus James Yap, it is possible that we can hear lesser ‘boos’ from the Barangay. Known as one of the best rivals of Caguioa, the two-time MVP from Escalante, Negros, has a lot of remarkable moments during the Manila Clasico, leading his past team countless of times with his one-handers and outside shooting to frustrate Ginebra and its fans.
Now that he is no longer part of the main event, expect PJ Simon and Allein Maliksi to step up and fill the gap that James Yap left. But also, Hotshots’ newest star, Paul Lee is very likely to put on a show.
Welcome to the Manila Clasico, Paul Lee:
Paul Dalistan Lee, a name that Ginebra faithfuls are very much familiar of, will play his first-ever Manila Clasico in a Purefoods jersey.
A proven Ginebra killer during his time with Rain or Shine, the former second overall pick from UE has always admit that he wants to play against the Ginebra crowd. And now that the Manila Clasico stage is set for him, the ‘Leethal Star’ is ready to rumble.
The first Thompson-Jalalon duel:
Scottie Thompson and Jiovanni Jalalon are gaining comparisons because of their similar style of play.
Recognized as leaders during their collegiate years, the former NCAA superstars will cross paths the first time in the PBA. And every one is excited for this up-and-coming rivalry.
The 2015 fifth overall pick from University of Perpetual Help, Scottie averages decent figures in rebounding and assists, but vows to be aggresive on offense as he tends to become gun-shy most of the times.
The former Arellano Chief, meanwhile, who the Hotshots nabbed in this year’s PBA Special Draft, is starting to carve in a significant role as he shows great composure down the stretch for Star.
With the absence of Greg Slaughter, Barangay Ginebra still has a solid force in the shaded lane with Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, and Jervy Cruz while Marc Pingris, Ian Sangalang, and Rafi Reavis will man the paint for the Hotshots.
Having won their last three games, highly-moraled Star definitely has the edge while Ginebra, who suffered a heavy beating last Sunday, should play with sense of urgency to have a chance against peaking Star Hotshots.