WITHOUT its top scorer and one of its valuable big men, Ginebra again finds itself the heavy underdog against a Talk `N Text side loaded with championship experience when they kick off their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals encounter Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings enter the 6:45 p.m. game still missing injured players Mark Caguioa and Billy Mamaril and fresh from grinding out two emotionally-charged wins over No.2 seed Rain or Shine to advance to the best-of-five semis series.
But coach Alfrancis Chua said the team will again be banking on its famous `sixth man’ as the Kings face another daunting task.
“Ang fans ng Ginebra ang sixth man namin. Kapag sumigaw sila, dire-diretso. Sila ang bumubuhay sa amin,” said Chua.
New acquisition Josh Urbiztondo, who provided added energy and hustle during the quarterfinal playoffs against the Elasto Painters, is again expected to have his hands full trying to contain Talk ‘N Text’s phalanx of speedy guards composed of Jason Castro, former league MVP Jimmy Alapag, Ryan Reyes, and Jared Dilinger.
“Si Josh ang mag-pe-pressure sa mga guards. But he also sets up the plays para makapahinga si LA (Tenorio),” said Chua.
Talk ‘N Text counterpart Norman Black acknowledged that even without Caguioa and Mamaril, Ginebra remains a dangerous opponent owing to its solid bench support.
“We recognized Ginebra as a dangerous opponent. With their solid play and crowd support, we expect them to be tough,” Black said.
Game One of the series will give import Vernon Macklin the opportunity to redeem himself against Talk `N Text rival Jerome Jordan following an anemic 12-point production the last time the two teams met on April 14.
“Macklin and LA will be major headaches but we will not also take the others for granted because their support cast has been playing well,” added Black.
The Tropang Texters coach though is hopeful the seven-foot Jordan will regain his bearings after struggling in their quarterfinal series against Petron.
The Jamaican big man averaged just 11 points, five rebounds and one block, while constantly running into foul trouble during their 2-0 series win against the Boosters.