WILL the grand slam spoilers strike again?
Barangay Ginebra gets another shot at preventing San Miguel of moving closer to a rare PBA championship hat-trick in their Governors’ Cup quarterfinal matchup on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings earned the reputation two years ago in the same edition of the season-ending conference where they enjoyed a twice-to-beat advantage and ambushed the Beermen, 104-84, to close out their first-round matchup in one game last September 27, 2017.
Justin Brownlee stood at the forefront of the attack with 37 points and 12 boards against the Terrence Watson-led Beermen as the Gin Kings went on their way to dispatching TNT in the semifinals, before defending their crown at the expense of finals rival Meralco.
Two years later, Ginebra is exactly in the same position with a win-once incentive against the Beermen, who ruled the first two conferences, but are currently beleaguered as they try to move on from a fight that broke out in practice this week.
The Beermen sent import Dez Wells packing, while suspending local veterans Arwind Santos, Ronald Tubid, and Kelly Nabong for their involvement in the fight, leaving them with an undermanned squad against the full-strength Gin Kings.
Still, LA Tenorio, played down the Gin Kings’ lofty tag, expecting the Beermen to regain their bearings as they play their third game with replacement import and former NBA player John Holland.
“Hindi naman namin iniisip na ganun eh,” Tenorio said, referring to Ginebra being known as a grand slam spoiler. “Siguro nata-timing lang na ganun yung nangyari. It just happened na San Miguel yung nakalaban namin.”
“I don’t think they’re gonna be vulnerable, knowing they’re a champion team,” he added. “We expect the real San Miguel. Alam naman natin na pag dating ng playoffs, they’re gonna play like a champion team. it doesn’t matter kung ano yung mga nangyari sa kanila. You can’t take anything for granted.”
Tenorio, though, is hoping the Gin Kings maximize their quarterfinal bonus and deny the Beermen of embarking of a vaunted comeback in a do-or-die game.
“Pag dating ng playoffs, especially quarterfinals, ito yung pinakaimportante sa playoffs, kasi dito, talagang one miss, you die eh,” the Gin Kings star point guard said ahead of their matchup that tips off at 6:45 p.m.
“Pag dating talaga ng playoffs, we just want to win,” he added. “We want to go through the quarters, semis, and we’ve been out of the finals for a year now, so makablik man lang sana kami ulit. Yun lang iniisip namin, yun lang goal namin. Wala kaming iniisip kung anong nangyayari sa labas o anong tawag sa amin. Our focus is to win on Sunday.”