THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and NLEX Road Warriors, currently the hottest teams in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup, try to extend their assault to the top of the standings when they take on separate opponents in league action today at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Both riding a three-game winning streak, the Kings (4-2) and Road Warriors (6-1) look to fortify their spots in the top half as the elimination round of the tournament hits the homestretch.
Barangay Ginebra plays the Blackwater Elite (2-6) in the scheduled 7 p.m. game while NLEX faces off with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (2-6) in the opener at 4:30 p.m.
After losing back-to-back games previously, the Kings have racked up three straight victories, the most recent against Rain or Shine, 98-89, on Oct. 26.
The Kings did not have it easy in said game but an explosive effort in the payoff quarter allowed them to get the leverage they were angling for to outlast and defeat the Elasto Painters.
Import Justin Brownlee was once again stellar, posting all-around numbers of 39 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and a block in 45 minutes on the floor.
Providing support to him were LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson, who each scored 11 points, and Stanley Pringle who had nine points and seven assists.
While they had it tough against Rain or Shine, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said it was something that should help them in the tournament moving forward.
“It was really a tough game to manage. We had a big lead and we’re trying to hold them off, but then we fell behind. It’s really a tough game from start to finish. But I think we need this kind of game,” said Mr. Cone.
Adding, “The fact that we had grind-out games is good for us as a team. It would help us to be mentally strong and tough down the stretch as we try to find ways to win.”
Out to stop the Kings are the Elite, losers of their last three assignments.
Meanwhile, NLEX seeks to sustain its fine form in the ongoing PBA tournament where it is actually already assured of a spot in the next round.
The Road Warriors notched a quarterfinal spot in their last game, a 126-113 victory over erstwhile undefeated TNT KaTropa on Oct. 25.
Replacement import Manny Harris continued to impress in his second game in the PBA, finishing with 40 points, nine assists and seven steals.
He had ample support from Kiefer Ravena, who had 16 points and 13 assists, as well as Jericho Cruz (15 points), JP Erram (14) and JR Quñahan (10).
The Road Warriors were particularly steady in the second half, where the KaTropa just could not keep in step with them.
“Great effort by the guys. TNT is such a strong team and there’s a reason they were unbeaten up to this point. So we made sure we were ready for them,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao as he paid tribute to his players after the contest.
NLEX shoots for a share of the tournament lead with TNT (7-1) against Rain or Shine, which is coming off a loss. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo