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    Ato defiant as Ginebra attempts to end skid

    Sep 3, 2013

    INJURY-riddled Barangay Ginebra hopes to end the bleeding when it goes up against a similarly struggling Air21 side as PBA Governors Cup action continues on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

    The Gin Kings (1-3) will again play without injured center Japeth Aguilar (sprained MCL) and Kerby Raymundo (bruised knee) in their 7:30 p.m. match against the Express (1-4), who have lost their last three assignments.

    Despite losing their last two games, Gin Kings coach Ato Agustin is confident they can arrest their skid against the Express as long as they duplicate their strong second-half performance against the Alaska Aces on Sunday.

    The Gin Kings lost, 99-102, but Agustin said their good ball movement and aggressiveness in the second half was a good sign that the players are now adjusting to his system and moving on this conference without Aguilar and Raymundo.

    “Kung ganito lalaruin namin sa next game (against Air21), I think mananalo kami kasi maganda ang stats namin, nine turnovers lang kami,” said Agustin.

    For the Express, who are at the halfway point of the single-round eliminations, a victory is necessary to keep alive their hopes for a top four finish, which guarantees a twice-to-beat incentive heading into the quarterfinals.

    Air21 has lost its last three outings by an average margin of 16.3 points. Coach Franz Pumaren said consistency in defense remains a problem for his team, which has also been besieged with trade reports involving starting point guard Mike Cortez and swingman Bitoy Omolon.

    While Pumaren didn’t hide the truth that his team is looking for ways to “improve the team” by “upgrading the roster” through trades, at this point he said they need to play with much greater aggressiveness if they hope to halt their skid.

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