OTHER than shooting for its six straight win and a more secure hold of the lead, Barangay Ginebra has an ax to grind against first-round tormentor Meralco as the two teams clash in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
Game time is at 5:45 p.m., with the Kings (8-1) looking to firm up their grip of the top spot while improving their chance of grabbing one of the twice-to-beat incentives at stake heading into the playoffs.
Rookie center Greg Slaughter, who had 17 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks shots in the Kings’ 97-83 smashing of the June Mar Fajardo-less Petron side on Christmas Day, said the Kings’ 8-1 win-loss record is nice to have at this point, although they are still far from being satisfied.
“Eight-one, it’s nice because we get a good separation (in the standings), but our goal is still to win the championship. We want to get the No. 1 spot for the playoffs but we got five more games to go,” said the year’s top rookie pick.
The Kings’ lone defeat for the season came at the hands of the Bolts, whose “small-ball” play during the first round helped them score a 100-87 upset of the league’s most popular ballclubs.
Meralco though has lost its last three assignments since posting a 3-2 record in its first five games this season.
“We are currently on a downward spiral,” admitted Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, whose team is tied for sixth spot with San Mig Super Coffee.
“Yet we are only one game away from the No. 5 team (in the standings). I told my players to keep a positive outlook since our losses are due to unfamiliarity of playing with each other and not because we lack the effort. It is only now that we are playing with an almost complete roster.”
Gregorio said he was happy to finally have energetic Fil-Am forward Cliff Hodge back in the lineup after missing six games due to a sprained ankle.
Reynel Hugnatan, who has been playing with a sprained ankle as well, managed to play through the pain the past few games.
“Cliff Hodge is back after six games while Reynel, Mike Cortez, and Jared (Dillinger) are getting back to good health after some nagging pains. Hopefully, we get the stability we like in our next five games,” he added.