THE PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals begin next week, but for coach Jeffrey Cariaso, the Kings are already coming with a playoff mindset as they take on Alaska in the main game of Friday’s doubleheader at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Halfway through what Cariaso considers as “hell week,” the Kings tried to peel away from a three-way tie on top with Talk `N Text and defending champion San Mig Super Coffee.
Tied with the Mixers and Tropang Texters at 5-2, the Kings are shooting for one of Top Four berths in the playoffs as it eye a win over the Aces in their 5:45 p.m. encounter.
The Kings dropped a 108-117 decision to Rain or Shine Sunday, before repulsing sister team San Miguel Beer last Wednesday, 105-98.
“We have a four-game stretch, and four really, really tough teams. Dun pa lang, we’ve already set our minds and treat it as a playoffs,” said Cariaso, Ginebra’s freshman coach, who’ll be pitting coaching skills fellow rookie newbie Alex Compton of Alaska.
“We came up short against Rain or Shine, but we bounced back and pulled one through against a tough San Miguel Beer team. So I commend the guys for falling last game and be able to step up the next game.”
Ginebra’s top frontline combo of import Zach Mason and rookie center Greg Slaughter have been providing big numbers for a team that has so far, showed good signs after switching to the `Triangle Offense under Cariaso.
The 6-foot-4 Mason is averaging 23.4 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, as he brings his blue-collar attitude for the talent-loaded Kings.
Slaughter, on the other hand, logs in 16.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per contest this conference.
Despite Ginebra’s expected size advantage, Compton feels his own frontline of Sonny Thoss, import Henry Walker, Gabby Espinas, Vic Manuel, and Calvin Abueva are up to the challenge when they prepare themselves for next week’s playoffs.
“I like the challenge that poses for them (Alaska’s frontline). Slaughter’s playing great. He’s playing very smart and very effective basketball,” noted Compton, whose team bounced back from a franchise-worst 72-123 blowout loss to Rain or Shine with a 92-83 victory over San Mig last week.
“I really like to see a player like Sonny matched up against him (Slaughter).”
Outside Mason and Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Billy Mamaril, and JR Reyes are expected to step up off the bench for the Kings, who are aching to put an end to the franchise’s six-year title drought this conference.
“As a player, you want to play the best guys and Greg’s already one of the best guys, so I like Gabby, Henry, Vic, and Calvin, matched up with Mason, JR, Aguilar and the rest of the guys,” he added.