BARANGAY Ginebra hits the road beginning on Saturday as it tries to sustain its revival in the PBA Governors Cup beginning with a game against woeful Blackwater at the Dipolog Sports Center in Dipolog City.
The undermanned Gin Kings opened the conference with back-to-back losses to the Alaska Aces (99-108) and the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters (91-95) before punching their first win via a 105-98 triumph over Manny Pacquiao’s KIA side on Wednesday.
Ginebra coach Frankie Lim admitted playing without injured 'Twin Towers' Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar is tough because they have to rely a lot on American import Orlando Johnson, especially with no one among his back-up big men filling the void in the middle.
Aguilar is listed as 'day to day' while the 6-11 Slaughter needs two more weeks to recover from an ankle injury.
In the duo's absence, Ginebra's lineup has been stretched thin, with Lim forced to use players like rookie Rodney Brondial, Dorian Pena and new boy Dave Marcelo to man the middle.
“We’re just finding ways to get the win, pero kahit wala kaming malaki, makikita mo naman ang efforts ng mga players. I’m very happy with the effort they are giving,” said Lim.
The Kings, however, have a good chance to improve their record before the Dubai game as they take on an Elite side that has been blown away by an average of 21.3 points in its first three games.
Still, Lim can't wait to see his team back in full fitness.
“Pero pagdating nila Slaughter and Japeth, at least, we can have inside presence because they (opposing teams) have play defense on Greg and I think it would become easier for Orlando to make his shots,” added Lim.
To Johnson's credit, the former NBA player has been doing a terrific job keeping the depleted team's head above water.
Johnson is averaging 48 points, 11.5 points and 2.5 assists, providing the inspiration and spark for a Ginebra side that is bidding to end its seven-year title drought this conference.
The former Indiana Pacers guard erupted with a 50-point debut against Alaska, followed by a 46-point effort against Talk ‘N Text, before knocking in 47 against KIA.
Johnson’s high-scoring performance is the hottest in a three-game stretch since Jerod Ward scored 61 points, 52 then 48 with Mobiline in the 2001 Commissioner’s Cup.