Ginebra eyes solo second spot as Kings take on tailenders Barako Bull Energy
LA Tenorio and the King have won two in a row and hope to stretch the streak to three. Jerome Ascano

ITS confidence buoyed by the demolition of reigning champion Purefoods Star, streaking Barangay Ginebra looks to continue its winning ways and inch closer to the top as it faces winless Barako Bull on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

What was expected to be a close fight, the Kings turned into a rout, a 23-point win earning them a share of second spot with San Miguel Beer at 4-1 behind unbeaten Alaska at 5-0.

[See Joseph Yeo provides spark as Ginebra deals Purefoods a thorough beating]

Ginebra has an opportunity to close in on the Aces, but they are not taking Barako Bull lightly even if the Energy under new coach Koy Banal have yet to win in four matches.

The match starts at 7 p.m.

“More than the offense, defense talaga ang ine-empahasize namin. Di namin masyado ine-emphasize ang offense namin kaya ang gulo gulo tingnan, because coach Jeff (Cariaso) thinks pag nakaka-stop kami, makakagawa kami ng paraan mag-opensa,” Ginebra guard LA Tenorio said.

The veteran playmaker pointed out that the team’s talent depth allows them to make some variations on their offense, though they are not necessarily veering away from the triangle offense.

“Malaking bagay din kasi dahil si Greg, now, nakikita niya na di siya kailangang magpipilit ngayon, nakikita niya yung open spots, while the guards, nagiging ready to shoot pag open sila,” noted the 30-year-old former Ateneo star point guard.

Ginebra’s giant frontline combination of Japeth Aguilar (14.0 points and 11.6 rebounds) and Slaughter (13.8 points and 12.4 rebounds), remain the top options on offense, although veteran guards Mark Caguioa and Joseph Yeo have also come up with fine performances to help propel the Kings.

[See Ginebra star Mark Caguioa reinvents game, turns from pure scorer to do-it-all player]

In the Gin Kings’ 100-91 whipping of expansion team Blackwater, Caguioa exploded for a season-high 23 points, while Yeo took charge the next game, pumping in 17 and five assists in their 23-point win against the Hotshots.

Banal recognizes the big advantage of the Gin Kings from the frontline to the backcourt, but he hopes hustle plays would get them the win.

“Wala kaming nakikitang advantages against Ginebra, but all we need to do is play with all our hearts. We need to play with a lot of energy kasi the last time against Rain or Shine, we started out flat,” explained Banal.

The Energy got ambushed by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last weekend, 99-71, leaving them as one of only two winless teams in the tournament.


[See Rain or Shine responds to Yeng Guiao's shape-up-or-get-traded warning with emphatic win over Barako Bull]


Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava