IT’S not yet the Finals, and yet expect the atmosphere to be like one Friday night when sister teams Barangay Ginebra and B-Meg clash in a do-or-die encounter for the last championship berth of the PBA Governors Cup.
The Lllamdos and Kings will definitely set aside their affinity in the 6:45 p.m. showdown and go all-out for a win and the right to face Rain or Shine in the best-of-seven title series beginning this Sunday.
The Kings forged the playoff Wednesday night after winning four of their five games in the semifinals, the clincher a down-the-wire 73-71 victory that ousted the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.
And the league’s hottest team doesn’t plan on slowing down as the season-ending conference comes down to its final stretch.
“Magandang opportunity itong playoff, pero hindi pa kami kuntento,” Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen said. “In a way, we are content with what we have, but we are not content with what we can become.”
The Llamados, on the other hand, unfortunately had to go through the hard route after losing to the Elasto Painters, 92-82, also on Wednesday, in a showdown for the first outright Finals berth.
Good thing, history is on the Llamados’ side as they make a Finals bid for the second straight conference.
The Kings’ lone loss in the semifinals came from the Llamados, 82-70. They also lost to B-Meg in the eliminations, 96-88.
If the numbers are not enough, the Llamados, featuring Best Import Denzel Bowles, likewise beat the Kings, 3-1, in the semifinal series of the Commissioner’s Cup.
Tanquingcen admitted the Llamados were the better team in the Kings’ setback against them last Sunday.
“They outplayed us last time,” said Tanquingcen, whose Kings were limited to one of their lowest outputs of the season.
Expect a shootout between Mark Caguioa and James Yap, two leading MVP candidates, as the two try to lead their respective teams to the championship round.
Caguioa recovered from a poor performance against the Llamados the last time and scored a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds against the Texters, while Yap was held to just 12 points on a lethargic 5-of-18 shooting from the field against the Painters.
How import Cedric Bozeman of Ginebra and the B-Meg’s Marcus Blakely perform will similarly be a barometer for their respective team’s chances.
In their last outing, Blakely had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, although the Llamados lost, while Bozeman only registered 14 points and 13 boards, but the Kings won.