BARANGAY Ginebra tries to keep its hopes for a twice-to-beat quarterfinal incentive alive when the Gin Kings collide with the Globalport Batang Pier on Friday night in the penultimate playdate of the PBA Governors Cup single-round eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A victory by the Gin Kings (3-4) in their 7:30 p.m. encounter with the Batang Pier will formalize their entry into the quarterfinals.
It would also put Globalport into a possible playoff for the No. 8 seed with Talk ’N Text next Monday should the Tropang Texters beat the Gin Kings at the close of the elims on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But Ginebra import Dior Lowhorn said they are determined to go all-out and beat the Batang Pier in order to avoid any kind of complication.
“We’ll go all-out tomorrow and they (Batang Pier) will, too. But we still have a game at our pocket. Though we don’t want to make it go down to that game. We want to take the pressure off us (by winning),” said Lowhorn.
The 6-foot-5 Lowhorn is averaging 29.4 points and 12.4 rebounds in 41.1 minutes this conference, working extra hard on the defensive end and on offense due to the absence of high-leaping center Japeth Aguilar (sprained MCL) and veteran forward Kerby Raymundo (left knee bone bruise).
The good news for the Kings is that 6’5” Raymundo has been practicing since last week and could play any time Barangay Ginebra coach Ato Agustin pulls him out of the bench.
“Si Kerby okay na, unti unti, so far, nakapag-ensayo na siya, pero di naman puwedeng biglain, though sa Friday puwede na siya,” said Agustin.
The Batang Pier have lost four of their last five games, but Globalport coach Junel Baculi remains confident they have a strong chance of beating Barangay Ginebra.
“The players are in high spirits. We just have to play, no more whining over anything under the sun,” said Baculi. “I’m proud that somehow, we can make history in our young franchise if we can win against Ginebra because that will propel us to the quarterfinals.”
The Batang Pier’s three victories this conference already matches the three-win total of the franchise during its first two conferences.
And while Ginebra is still missing Aguilar and Raymundo expected to play minimal minutes, Baculi said they will have to learn how to play through pressure against the Kings and their supporters.
“Ginebra will always fight to the end, so for us, we just need to find ways to limit the production of their Big Three, si LA (Tenorio), Mark Caguioa and their import and that would be a huge task,” explained Baculi.