TWO of the PBA’s best big men take the spotlight, but expect the rest to shine, too, when San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra collide on Sunday in the Smart Bro-Philippine Cup at the Philsports Arena.
June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter renew their rivalry when the Beermen and Gin Kings face off in a marquee matchup between sister teams at 5:15 p.m.
“Greg versus June Mar is always exciting, but we have to make sure we don’t stand around and watch those two play,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said on Saturday. “We need to get a better balance in our scoring and more production from the bench.”
The lack of contribution outside the Gin Kings’ starters was evident in their hard-earned 93-92 win over Alaska in Dubai last week when they only drew 17 bench points, a far cry from the Aces’ whopping 77 points off the bench.
Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar continued to carry most of the offensive load as the twin towers combined for 50 points and 31 rebounds against the Aces, who rallied from 21 points down and threatened to steal the game.
“We escaped in our last game against Alaska, but we can’t expect to do the same against SMB,” Cone said. “We’ve got to be a lot more solid for forty-eight minutes.”
“I’m hoping the Gin Kings fans come out in droves,” the champion coach added. “We need it loud and noisy if we’re going to beat SMB.”
The league’s most popular team definitely hopes to draw inspiration from its legions of fans as the Gin Kings seek to establish their first winning streak in the all-Filipino conference after losing their first two assignments.
Fajardo, the reigning league MVP who registered 20 points, 13 boards, and two blocks against the Elite, tries to lead the defending champion Beermen, sporting a 3-1 win-loss slate, in regaining the solo lead.
“I’m expecting it to be a hard game,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria, expecting to draw strength also from Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos.
Meralco seeks a maiden win as it takes on Barako Bull earlier at 3 o'clock.