BARANGAY Ginebra seeks to clinch the top spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup as it battles unpredictable GlobalPort in the first of two crucial doubleheaders at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings currently show the way in the standings with a 10-2 record and only need to salvage a win in their last two games in the elimination to secure the No. 1 spot heading into the quarterfinals.
Game time is at 5:45 p.m.
But the Batang Pier are also looking for a victory to secure a playoff spot in the season-opening conference. Globalport is currently tied with Meralco and Barako Bull for the sixth to eighth places on 5-8 records.
Ginebra star Mark Caguioa said ball movement and rebounding will be crucial for the Kings if they want to get past the Batang Pier, who are playing again without injured big man Jay Washington.
The 6-foot-7 Washington is out for the remainder of the conference after partially tearing his plantar fasciia on his right foot last week.
“I think we just need to keep working on our offense,” said Caguioa, who scored 14 points in the Kings’ 90-83 win over Barako Bull on Sunday.
Caguioa knows the Kings should not take the Batang Pier lightly especially since the two-year-old franchise is coming off a morale-boosting 91-88 overtime win against Alaska.
Meantime, Globalport coach Ritchie Ticzon is bracing for a big fight against Ginebra especially in trying to contain the Kings’ 'Twin Towers' Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter.
“We’re assured of a playoff (for the No. 8 spot), but I just hope they (Gin Kings) don’t need a win anymore,” a joking Ticzon said, pointing to Ginebra’s near-flawless win-loss record.
“But all we talked about the whole conference is we compete. And I hope we can compete against them.”
The rookie coach said he saw a glimpse of the team’s fighting heart when the Batang Pier battled back from an 18-point deficit, took the lead briefly in the fourth quarter, before bowing to the Kings, 109-104, in their first meeting on November 28.
The game saw Globalport rookie guard Terrence Romeo engaged Caguioa in a lively shootout in the second half.
The 5-foot-11 Romeo finished with 27 points, 22 of them coming in the second half as he led the Batang Pier’s spirited rally in the last two quarters.
But Caguioa came to the rescue when he fired 14 of his game-high 29 points in the final period to save the Kings from imminent collapse.