By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
CURRENTLY situated on the fringes of the playoff picture in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Columbian Dyip battle today in a key match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Set for 7 p.m., the Kings (3-5) and Dyip (4-5), the ninth and eighth place teams right now in the midseason PBA tournament look to notch a victory in their set-to to give their quarterfinal push a boost.
As per tournament format, only the top eight teams from the 12-team field at the end of the elimination round advance to the next round with the bottom four automatically eliminated.
Barangay Ginebra has won its last two matches entering today’s contest and is looking to build on it to establish a long-sought winning momentum.
The Kings defeated the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 104-84, in their “Manila Clasico” on June 17 that had import Justin Brownlee waxing hot for 35 points and LA Tenorio posting all-around numbers of 22 points, six rebounds and five assists to win player-of-the-game honors.
The win was in follow-up to their 93-85 triumph over the NLEX Road Warriors on June 9 that effectively halted for the team a three-game losing streak.
“We’re getting a little more comfortable back with Justin Brownlee. We played a really good game against NLEX and it got us going in another must-win tonight [against Magnolia],” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“But we’re still in the same situation after that and after that. We have no margin for error. But if we find a way to win out our three tough games, we could make the Top Six,” the champion coach added, underscoring the need for them to be on top of their game the rest of the way.
Incidentally, the Kings could well parade newly acquired Jeff Chan for today’s game.
Mr. Chan was traded from the Phoenix Fuel Masters to the Kings in exchange for the latter’s first-round pick in the 2018 Rookie Draft in a deal that went down on Monday.
Waiting for the Kings, and looking to make their own push, are the Dyip, rejuvenated after stopping a three-game losing streak in their last game with a 115-107 win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters on June 10.
Columbian used a strong finishing kick to get the better of Phoenix, with import John Fields leading the way with 29 points, to chalk up the big skid-busting victory.
Also doing their share in the win were Glenn Khobuntin, Jerramy King, Rashawn McCarthy, Eric Camson and Ronald Tubid, who all wound up in double digits in scoring.
“We have a chance now. So we talked about not letting this pass, we cannot let this pass, this opportunity to make the playoffs. We also talked about our locals needing to contribute more, not just offensively,” said Columbian coach Ricky Dandan of the mind-set they have moving forward.
Playing in the opener at 4:30 p.m., meanwhile, are the GlobalPort Batang Pier (4-4) and Phoenix (3-6).