Defending champion Ginebra faces worthy challenger Star as sister squads rekindle rivalry
Coach Chito Victolero's Hotshots are just a half game behind coach Tim Cone's Kings. Jaime Campos

BARANGAY Ginebra seeks to sustain its momentum as it takes on a worthy challenger in archrival Star on Sunday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The defending champion Gin Kings have gained some steam after starting their title defense on the wrong foot with a loss to finals rival Meralco, winning their next five games to become the tournament’s hottest team.

Now, Ginebra, which is sharing the top spot with Meralco, stakes its winning streak against the Hotshots as the sister squads rekindle their rivalry at 6:45 p.m.

“There’s always a buzz in the air at practice when we’re preparing for the Manila Clasico,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “It’s an exciting game. It’s especially true now since both teams are on equal footing and playing good basketball.”

The Hotshots, after all, are just a half-game behind the Gin Kings with four wins and one loss, which came at the hands of Rain or Shine, 92-88, last Sunday.

Star should be eager to get back on the winning track behind its guard-oriented attack led by Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, and Jio Jalalon, as well as wingman import Malcolm Hill.

The Gin Kings, who walloped Phoenix, 105-92, last Wednesday, also bank on their three-headed guard monster of LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, and Sol Mercado, but will also look to pounce with twin towers Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, who will all provide support to do-it-all import Justin Brownlee.

“It will be a classic battle of our size versus their quickness,” Cone said. “The winner will be in good shape for the race to the top four.”

NLEX, already bound for the quarterfinals with a 6-2 win-loss card, likewise seeks to keep its dream run going as it takes on GlobalPort (3-3) in the appetizer at 4:30 p.m.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos