BARANGAY Ginebra braces for a dogfight against a San Miguel Beer (SMB) team that offers a different look from its usual June Mar Fajardo-centric ways.

“They’ve done a really good job of adjusting to June Mar’s absence,” coach Tim Cone noted of the Gin Kings’ PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal rival during Monday’s Sports Desk on CNN Philippines.

“They play at a much faster pace, they’re a little bit different defensively, they’re moving the ball extremely well.”

Second seed SMB and No. 3 Ginebra set up a dream best-of-five Final Four duel by making short work of No. 7 Converge (121-105) and No 6 NLEX (127-93), respectively, in Sunday’s quarterfinals.

With Mr. Fajardo out on MCL tear, Mr. Cone observed that SMB import Cameron Clark and locals Vic Manuel and Mo Tautuaa have assumed bigger frontline duties.

Then there are the likes of CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Jericho Cruz and Simon Enciso for the penetration and long bombs.

“It’s not June Mar-centric anymore. You don’t know who to pick up. Would you go after CJ? Vic Manuel? Lassiter? They have a lot of weapons. It’s a well-rounded team despite the absence of June Mar so it’s going to be a great matchup,” said Mr. Cone.

The three-peat-seeking Gin Kings are dealing with injuries themselves.

Big man Japeth Aguilar, still recovering from MCL, is unlikely to return in the SMB series even as seasoned guard LA Tenorio is done for the season after undergoing surgery for aggravated sports hernia.

“If anything, Japeth would be able to come back sometime in the finals, if we make it. I don’t see him coming back right now,” said Mr. Cone.

“Of course, LA’s out. We’re missing ‘Playoff’ LA’; he just goes to another level when the playoffs start. He’s at the game (quarterfinals against NLEX) and that means we’re going to get his leadership back. He’s going to be around and talk to the players and we’ll be able to use that as well.”

Justin Brownlee remains a steady force for the Gin Kings with Best Player of the Conference leading candidate Christian Standhardinger, reigning MVP Scottie Thompson, and young guns Jamie Malonzo and Jeremiah Gray providing a strong complement.

“Losing Japeth and LA, there have to be adjustments to be made and guys have to step up,” said Mr. Cone.

Ginebra and San Miguel will mix it up once the other side of the quarterfinals draw pitting No. 1 TNT versus No. 8 Phoenix and No. 4 Meralco against No. 5 Magnolia is settled. The win-once Tropang Giga and the Bolts will shoot for the clincher tomorrow. — Olmin Leyba