OPENING day winners Barangay Ginebra and Kia Motors collide in the season’s first road game as the solo leadership will be up for grabs in the Petron-PBA Philippine Cup Saturday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
The Kings take on a Sorentos side that will be without playing-coach Manny Pacquiao, who is now concentrating on his training for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title defense against unbeaten American Chris Algieri.
And in the absence of Kia’s most popular player, the Kings are expected to pounced on the opportunity with coach Jeffrey Cariaso expecting his starters led by Twin Tower Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar to set the tone for the 5 p.m. encounter.
“Starters play a huge role in setting the tone for us, especially defensively,” said Cariaso after the Kings’ routed Talk `N Text Tropang Texters, 101-81,during the main game on opening day .
Slaughter scored 16 points and had 12 rebounds, while the 6-foot-9 Aguilar contributed 18 points, 18 rebounds, along with five blocks in the Kings’ 20-point victory.
Kia Motors for its part, rode on a fiery second half offensive anchored by pint-sized guard LA Revilla to whip fellow expansion team Blackwater, 80-66.
But for the Sorentos to beat the Kings, Pacquiao top assistant Glen Capacio expects the team to come out with its A-game on the defensive end in the hope of preventing Aguilar, Slaughter, and veterans LA Tenorio and Mark Caguioa from inflicting serious damage.
“Malalaki sila so ang aasahan lang talaga namin sa laro na ito is yun depensa namin,” Capacio said before traveling with the team to Lucena on Friday.
KIA shocked Ginebra, 73-71 last August during the two team’s preseason match, but Capacio knows a repeat won’t be easy owing to the Kings’ numerous scoring threats.
“Kahit sino pumuputok sa Ginebra so again, sa amin, kailangan pa naming ma-improve yung ginagawa namin,” he added.