By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
CURRENTLY in the middle of the pack of the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters enter their joust today with a sense of urgency and looking to bag the victory that would help propel their cause.
Set for 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Kings (4-3) and Fuel Masters (3-4), the fifth and eighth place teams, respectively, at the moment, try to pad their records as the midseason PBA tournament hits the final stretch of the elimination round.
The Kings have done their push good of late, having won their last two games, the most recent of which against the NLEX Road Warriors, 100-85, on June 23.
It was an end-to-end domination by the Kings against the Road Warriors in a game that saw newly acquired player Stanley Pringle make his Barangay Ginebra debut.
Import Justin Brownlee was all-around in the victory, finishing with 37 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
Mr. Pringle finished with 16 points, on an efficient 6-of-10 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds and two steals.
LA Tenorio and Greg Slaughter had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Kings.
Rolling to their second straight win, the defending champions Kings are hopeful that they get to finish the elimination round strong, especially with All-Star Pringle now it tow.
Barangay Ginebra got Mr. Pringle after a trade with Northport Batang Pier in exchange for three players — Sol Mercado, Jervy Cruz and Kevin Ferrer.
“He’s a great fit for the team. He’s going to struggle a little bit learning the triangle early and stuff like that but he fits well. He’s got a good rhythm of the team and it’s going to be great moving forward,” said Mr. Brownlee of new teammate Pringle.
Phoenix, on the other hand, got back to the win column in its last game on Wednesday, defeating erstwhile streaking Northport, 97-87.
The Fuel Masters overcame a shaky start to the match and kept it steady when it got its collective groove to get the better of the Batang Pier on the way to the win.
Sweet-shooting Matthew Wright led Phoenix with 28 points to go along with six assists and two blocks.
Import Richard Howell had 18 points and 15 rebounds while RJ Jazul finished with 17 markers for the Fuel Masters.
Phoenix continues to play without All-Star forward Calvin Abueva who was indefinitely suspended by the league for conduct unbecoming of a professional and recently lost guard LA Revilla to a foot injury.
Playing in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser, meanwhile, are the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (3-3) and the NLEX Road Warriors (1-7).