DON’T count Barangay Ginebra out against Rain or Shine in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal matchup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
That’s what Gin Kings guard Joseph Yeo insisted despite his eighth-seeded team having the twice-to-win disadvantage against the top-ranked Elasto Painters, who will be gunning for a semifinal berth in the 5:15 p.m. affair.
The Painters also frustrated the Kings, 82-79, in a bruising first encounter in this import-spiced conference last March 15.
But Yeo, whose status is listed as day-to-day due to back spasms that have hounded him since last week, believes his powerhouse squad remains dangerous if it can only play up to its full potential.
“Even though kami yung kailangan manalo ng dalawang beses, hindi mo pwedeng sabihing underdog kami, kasi alam nila malakas kami, ‘di ba?” the offseason acquisition said. “Parang hindi lang kami nag-je-jell as a team, pero nakikita nila, individually, we’re very talented.”
“Very unpredictable ang Ginebra,” he added. “We can beat any team, but pwede rin kami matalo sa pinaka-mahinang team. So we just have to bring our A-game.”
Another Gin King nursing an injury, Japeth Aguilar, is hoping his team matches the physicality of the Painters, anchored by the hulking pair of Beau Belga and JR Quiñahan.
In their heated skirmish last time, the Kings built an 18-point first-half lead but appeared to be intimidated in the face of the Painters physicality in the second half.
“Nung naging physical na yung Rain or Shine, nag-shy away kami sa contact,” admitted Aguilar, who is a game-time decision against RoS after sustaining a sprained right ankle in the waning seconds of the 104-98 loss to Alaska last Wednesday. “So kailangan ibigay na namin lahat ng makakaya.”
The Kings enjoy more success when they dump the ball down low to their big men led by import Michael Dunigan — and Aguilar hopes his team keeps doing that.
“We pounded the ball inside (against Alaska)," Aguilar said. "'Yung mga big man talagang in-establish nila 'yung presence nila sa loob.”
In the end, prevailing is beyond the X’s and O’s, said Eman Monfort, who is also nursing a shoulder injury but is also slated to play against the Painters.
“It’s all about will and determination. Talagang puso na ‘to sa larong 'to,” the pint-sized playmaker said. “Ayaw pa naming magbakasyon.”