By Jonas Terrado
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Blackwater vs TNT KaTropa
7 p.m. – Phoenix vs Ginebra
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel seeks to continue its hot streak before a marquee clash this weekend as it battles the struggling Phoenix Fuel Masters tonight in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Before facing the Star Hotshots in Sunday’s “Manila Clasico,” Ginebra eyes a share of top spot with idle Meralco at the expense of a Phoenix side that had lost six straight after starting the season-ending conference with two straight victories.
Ginebra and Phoenix face off at 7 p.m. after TNT KaTropa and Blackwater lock horns in the 4:15 p.m. curtainraiser.
TNT, tied for sixth with San Miguel at 3-2, expects rough sailing against Blackwater, which has moved in playoff contention after a 0-3 start was cancelled with three straight wins – all since the arrival of import Henry Walker.
But attention will be on Ginebra, a team on a roll since a 93-78 loss to Meralco last July 23 to open its title-retention bid.
Ginebra is on a four-game winning streak, including the last two on the road three weeks in between. The Gin Kings downed the NLEX Road Warriors, 110-97, in Calasiao, Pangasinan last Aug. 5 before frustrating the winless Alaska Aces, 94-80, Saturday in Lapu-Lapu City.
While coach Tim Cone continues to get good showings from import Justin Brownlee and locals LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter have been perhaps the most impressive as of late.
Devance, who continues to deal with a foot injury that has bothered him since the Philippine Cup, is averaging 21 points in the last two games, making 17-of-20 shots, while Slaughter has averaged 14.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks after being out for almost a year with a knee injury.
Phoenix aims to derail Ginebra’s good run of form, but is dealing with confidence issues after a 110-83 loss to TNT Friday.
TNT can only hope import Glen Rice Jr. can pull a repeat of his 38-point in that game as it faces a rejuvenated Blackwater side led by Walker, who’s averaging 32.0 points, 20.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals since replacing the injured Trevis Simpson.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac had dubbed Walker as “Mr. Inspiration” after the Elite climbed out of the cellar to beat Phoenix, NLEX and Alaska in succession.
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