Mike Dunigan braces for another bruising encounter against Extra Rice, Inc. as Kings clash with Painters in quarters
Mike Dunigan and the Kings look to get even as they take on the Painters anew. Jaime Campos

THEIR first encounter was physical and featured a lot of verbal tussles.

And the return bout is expected to be even more intense especially with Ginebra’s dear life on the line as the Kings cross paths with nemesis and top seed Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.

Ginebra import Michael Dunigan is anticipating a rough match on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena as the eighth seeded Kings try to stay alive in the mid-season tournament against the Elasto Painters, who enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

“All the games are physical games for me. Nobody wants me on the block and we all know why, but we’re just gonna take it one game at a time and try to control what we can control, then come out and play hard,” Dunigan told Spin.ph before the Kings’ practice on Thursday at Green Meadows in Libis, Quezon City.

The Kings dropped all the way down from sixth to eighth seed in the playoffs after their fourth-quarter rally fell short and bowed to the Alaska Aces, 104-98, in the final day of the eliminations.

[See Alaska survives dogfight against Ginebra to make PBA playoffs as No. 6 seed]

Although Ginebra ended up in a three-way logjam at 5-6 with Alaska and Barako Bull, the Aces took the no. 6 seed due to a superior quotient.

The Aces will face defending champion and no. 3 Purefoods in a best-of-three series starting on Friday, while seventh seed Barako Bull on Saturday faces No. 2 seed Talk ’N Text, which also enjoys a twice-to-beat edge.

The 25-year-old Dunigan said the Kings need to play aggressive to force a do-or-die match with the Elasto Painters, whose bruising frontline of Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, and Raymond Almazan is expected to be at its absolute best defensively especially against him.

Belga was fined P70,000 for his unsportsmanlike behavior during Rain or Shine’s 82-79 come-from-behind win against Ginebra two weeks ago.

Almazan was also fined P40,000 for the same offense after admitting he flashed a dirty finger to Ginebra fans.

[See Belga fined P70,000 for 'unsportsmanlike behavior,' flagrant fouls; P40,000 fine for Almazan]

“We just gotta play our basketball, just like the Globalport game where we set the tone,” explained Dunigan, referring to the team’s wire-to-wire 86-71 win over the Batang Pier on Saturday in Lucena.

“I’m looking forward to the Rain or Shine game.  This (Alaska game) is over and done with,” he said.


Dunigan also said the Kings need to maximize every possession and avoid committing errors.

“Turnovers killed us and cost us the game yet again, so we have to be more aggressive and we have to find ways to control the basketball.”


Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava