BARANGAY Ginebra opens its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on Sunday against a Rain or Shine side that boasts a loaded frontline like the Gin Kings – at least on paper.
At full-strength, the Gin Kings have Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, while the Elasto Painters have Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, and burly import Reggie Johnson.
But those frontcourts can’t compare to that of San Miguel Beer, which parades top pick Christian Standhardinger along with June Mar Fajardo and reinforcement Troy Gillenwater.
LA Tenorio admits SMB’s loaded lineup makes the Beermen the favorites once again to rule the midseason tournament and beyond.
“Exception yung San Miguel eh,” Tenorio told SPIN.ph after a recent practice . “If you talk about teams in the PBA, hindi mo na dapat banggitin ang San Miguel kasi automatic nandun na yan eh. With Christian Standhardinger playing this conference, I don’t know. Hindi ko alam.”
“We’ll see kung anong pwede naming magawa,” he added. “It’s five-on-five inside the court, so we’ll take our chances. Hindi naman lahat naglalaro ng sabay-sabay. Five-on-five naman yan.”
Asked if second place is the only spot that’s up for grabs with SMB’s title credentials, Tenorio agreed it might be the case on paper, but still believes anything can happen on the court.
“Ayaw namin isipin yun (second place na lang), but if you take a look at it talaga sa paper, eh runner-up na lang talaga ang pinaglalabanan because of San Miguel,” Tenorio said with a chuckle.
“Pero bilog pa rin ang bola, so may chance pa rin kahit papaano,” he was quick to add. “We’ll see. We’ll be ready. Kailangan lang nasa right position kami pag dating ng playoffs.”
What makes the Gin Kings’ bid even harder is starting the conference with an undermanned squad without Slaughter, Jervy Cruz, and Paolo Taha, while import Charles Garcia is still adjusting to the weather and their system after coming in as a last-minute replacement for Shane Edwards.
“But the rest of the guys are ready and excited to go,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said in a text message on the eve of their match against the E-Painters that tips off at 6:45 p.m. “Rain or Shine is always a tough physical matchup for us, but we’re ready to battle.”
The E-Painters look to follow up a 109-103 overtime win over Alaska just last Friday.