TNT Katropa and Barangay Ginebra gauge themselves against each other heading into the playoffs as the PBA Governors’ Cup pacesetters collide on Sunday night at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
The tournament-leading Texters and the second-running Gin Kings are already secured of twice-to-beat advantages in the quarterfinals and are just disputing the top seeding going into the next round.
“I don’t think either team is going to give an inch,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said on the eve of the 6:45 p.m. matchup. “It could turn out to be the best non-bearing game in history.”
“One of the things we try to learn as a group is that we want to play the game the same way all the time,” the league’s most successful coach added. “Whether it’s a bearing game or a practice game or a Game Seven, we want to play the game the same way.”
“I think the really great teams go out there and develop that culture,” Cone continued, drawing strength from import Justin Brownlee and local playmakers LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and Scottie Thompson anew.
Texters coach Jong Uichico agrees, confident that his wards will also bring their best in the hopes of sustaining their momentum entering the postseason.
“They take it upon themselves that they know that they have to keep their level of play on a high,” said the veteran coach, whose team has been on a resurgence after underperforming the last three conferences.
“I think Ginebra will be the real test,” Uichico added as he once again leans on a powerhouse local crew led by Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo. “We might not meet them in the Top Four, but, for sure, if we go to the next round, we could.”
TNT is toting a 9-1 win-loss record, while Ginebra is at 8-2 and a win by the Gin Kings will catapult them to the top owing to the winner-over-the other rule.
The catch of clinching the top seed is having the possibility of facing reigning Commissioner’s Cup champion Rain or Shine, which is taking Phoenix in a playoff for the last spot.
“We’d be honored to be the top seed, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have an easier road,” Cone said. “You can end up playing Rain or Shine, so it doesn’t guarantee you anything.”
“There are no easy teams down there, so whether you’re (number) one, two, three, or four, you’re going to end up getting a really tough opponent,” he added.