NO championship yet is at stake, but expect the rivalry to be as intense as ever.
Tim Cone braces for a tough quarterfinal series between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco at the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs on Monday given the past history of the two warring franchises.
“We’re familiar foes. We’ve battled each other a lot in the playoffs over recent years, and every series has been close and tight with incredible moments,” said Cone on the eve of Game 1 of the Kings’ best-of-three series with the Bolts.
Ginebra and Meralco disputed the Governors Cup title the past two seasons, with the Kings emerging triumphant both times including last year’s championship series which they won in seven grueling games.
The two teams' quarterfinal duel was sealed Saturday night after Magnolia downed defending champion San Miguel, 101-97.
The Kings ended up in a three-way tie with the Beermen and the Hotshots on 6-5 records, but clinched the No. 5 spot owing to a superior quotient.
The Bolts, meanwhile, went down to No. 4 as TnT Katropa routed top seed Rain or Shine, 100-85, on the final day of the eliminations.
As in the past, Cone considers the Bolts a very dangerous team especially in an import-laden conference.
In its past two trips in the Governors Cup finals, Meralco had two-time Best Import Allen Durham around while it reached the semifinals of this same tournament two years ago with current import Arinze Onuaku but lost to the Alaska Aces in the deciding Game 5.
“Meralco is always especially good when they have a dominant inside import and Onuaku is definitely that,” said the Ginebra coach. “Our ability to defend the paint will be crucial.”
The Bolts beat the Kings, 93-82, in their lone encounter in the eliminations last June 1 in the debut of import Justine Brownlee after replacing Charles Garcia.
The Kings though, are going to the playoffs on a five-game winning run, while the Bolts ended their elimination round campaign with losses in their last two outings.