DEFENDING champion San Mig Coffee, in a logjam at midtable, tries to move up a notch when it battles cellar-dwelling Barangay Ginebra on Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup main at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers are even at 3-3 after winning their last three games, going 3-1 with recently reacquired import Denzel Bowles. They go for their fourth straight win this conference against the Gin Kings (1-5) at 6:30 p.m.
“You get those runs of four, five or six-game winning streak. But everybody then starts gunning for you. For us, we’re desperate for a win. We’re trying to create our momentum,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.
The Mixers are enter the match tied for fourth with Barako Bull and Meralco and hope to close in on the idle league-leader Alaska (6-1).
“I always tell the team, until we get to .500 we can’t talk about anything, like playoffs. But good news, because we got here now, and hopefully, we keep winning and get a good playoff position,” he added.
The 6-foot-10 Bowles, tapped to replace Matt Rogers, has been averaging modest numbers for the Mixers this conference – 19.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.7 blocks in 35.7 minutes of play.
The big difference is Bowles’ familiarity with Cone’s system, which made it easy for the team to adjust when Rogers was replaced after his one-game stint with Petron.
On the other hand, the Gin Kings are still struggling despite a change of import from Herbert Hill to Vernon Macklin.
While Macklin is a high-energy guy who can provide offense inside because of his size, strength and leaping ability, local players from the Gin Kings need to come to his support if they hope to begin their climb to respectability.
Barangay Ginebra is coming off a 93-96 loss to Rain or Shine last week after hitting just 27-of-46 free throws. Macklin said that pretty much explains the wasted opportunities.
“We just have to regroup and play harder. I kind of let my team down missing those free throws,” explained Macklin, who still finished the game with 27 points, 16 rebounds and two shot blocks.
Consistency is something the Gin Kings need to display this conference in order for the team not to be overly dependent on its import and Mark Caguioa for offense.
The “Spark” has been doing it all for the locals in the Kings’ first six games, averaging 21.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 37.1 minutes.