Home Editors' Picks Battle of siblings kicks off in PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series

Battle of siblings kicks off in PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series

Games Today
(Ynares Center, Antipolo)
3 p.m. — San Miguel Beer vs Barangay Ginebra
5:45 p.m. — Meralco vs TNT

IT’S A sought-after finals ticket on the line so forget about corporate affiliation for now. It’s a take-no-prisoners type of battle combatants are setting out to wage in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series.

From the San Miguel Corp. stable, there’s defending champion Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer (SMB) dueling in a livewire best-of-five semifinal contest.

From the MVP Group, there’s flagship TNT and perennial Governors’ Cup contender Meralco mixing it up for a place in the Last Dance.

The double dose of sister-versus-sister kicks off today (March 24) at the Ynares Center in Antipolo with SMB-Ginebra firing the opening salvo at 3 p.m. and Meralco-TNT contesting the running start at 5:45 p.m.

The Bolts are gunning for their fifth finals in six editions in their continuing bid for a breakthrough title. But Norman Black’s troops face major stumbling block in the Tropang Giga, who have won their last nine games, including the semis-clinching 132-105 rout of No. 8 Phoenix last Wednesday.

Mr. Black feels his Bolts, who showed grit in a come-from-behind 113-107 overtime victory over No. 5 Magnolia, are up to the task.

“I think we can keep up with them (TNT). We can go out and run with them,” he said. “The one thing that’s going for us is we are the top defensive team in the league so something’s got to give one way or another.”

KJ McDaniels returns from that previous TNT-Meralco semis faceoff but this time donning the Bolts jersey and teaming up with fit-again Chris Newsome, Aaron Black, Allein Maliksi, Chris Banchero and Raymond Aguilar.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, fresh off a triple-double game in the quarters, banners the Jojo Lastimosa-coached TNT with RR Pogoy, Jayson Castro, Calvin Oftana and Mikey Williams leading the local charge.

“We match up well against Meralco. We have enough length to match up with them and we have enough big guards to match up with their big guards as well,” said Mr. Lastimosa.

Three-peat-seeking Ginebra, meanwhile, battles an SMB team that’s not missing a beat despite the sidelining of June Mar Fajardo.

“They’ve proven over the past three games that they can play at a high level without June Mar,” said Gin Kings mentor Tim Cone. “In fact, they play a little quicker, more of an up-and-down. Their import (Cameron Clark) has an opportunity to dominate a little but more inside. They’ve been able to overcome June Mar’s absence with flying colors.”

Ginebra banks on Justin Brownlee, Christian Standhardinger, Jamie Malonzo and Scottie Thompson even as Japeth Aguilar is still recovering from MCL and LA Tenorio is fighting colon cancer. Mr. Tenorio will help the team as part of the coaching staff in the meantime.

Without Mr. Fajardo, Jorge Gallent’s SMB pins its hopes on Mr. Clark, CJ Perez, Vic Manuel, Mo Tautuaa, Marcio Lassiter and Jericho Cruz. — Olmin Leyba