SHORT of advertising a popular brand of vitamins, Ginebra manager Alfrancis Chua declared the Kings as a "complete team" for the coming PBA season.
“Para kaming Centrum ngayon. Now we’re complete,” said Chua after the Kings defeated Rain or Shine, 95-90, in a tune-up game on Wednesday at Ronac Center in Greenhills.
Without a legitimate big man at the post for sometime now, the Kings finally paraded a triple threat in rookie center Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and Jay-R Reyes who more than held their own against the Elasto Painters’ Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Jervy Cruz, and Larry Rodriguez.
They Said It!
“Dati sa import kami umaasa sa big man department. Ngayon makikipag-sabayan na kami." - Ginebra manager Alfrancis Chua
“Now we can compete with the league’s tall teams. Kasi for the past seasons, wala kaming malaki,” Chua added. “Dati sa import kami umaasa sa big man department. Ngayon makikipag-sabayan na kami.”
Rain or Shine, though, played without No. 3 pick overall Raymond Almazan, who is still tied down by his commitments to Letran in the NCAA.
Slaughter readily made his presence felt inside by grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 12 points in leading Ginebra’s third-quarter assault that saw the Kings post an 81-65 lead entering the fourth period.
Here's a video of the preseason game:
Yet, Ginebra coach Ato Agustin was far from satisfied.
“Yung first half nila they scored only 38, so ang target natin ngayon is defense. We must limit them more,” Agustin told his players.
“Defense ang first na pagtutuunan natin ng pansin,” added Agustin, the 1992 league MVP.
Ginebra superstar Mark Caguioa can’t help but look forward to how the team will fare during an actual PBA game.
“This was a good tune-up for us. Rain or Shine agad ang nakatapat namin, kaya natikman ng rookies namin kung gaano kahirap ang PBA,” said the charismatic team leader.
Asked if he’s already seeing Ginebra as an outright title contender, Caguioa said he wants the team to stay healthy and then take everything from there.
“We’re not yet looking for the championship, kailangan namin is to be healthy. If that happens, anything is possible,” he said.
“We have to avoid injury, and that includes me,” said the 33-year-old cage star, who twice suffered a knee injury that kept him from playing in the Commissioner’s and Governors’ Cup playoffs.
But Rain or Shine guard Ryan Arana was the first to attest that Ginebra will be a totally different team this season.
“Expected na contender yan this conference. Ang laki nila tapos kumpleto pa ang backcourt nila,” he said.
“Pero sabi nga ni coach (Yeng), lima lang naman maipapasok nila. Kaya tatapatan ng lima namin sa court anuman kaya nilang gawin,” said Arana, who scored 13 points for the Elasto Painters, mostly on drives to the basket against Slaughter.
“Ibang-iba ang Ginebra ngayon. May bangis,” added Arana, a native of Casiguran, Aurora.
But Ginebra team governor Robert Non is a bit more cautious, saying the team’s strength can only be measured when the season formally kicks off on November 17.
“Iba `yung tune-up sa actual na laro. It remains to be seen,” said Non, who was one of the brains behind the buildup of the country’s most popular ballclub.