BARANGAY Ginebra goes in practically blind on Sunday when it takes on a San Miguel Beer side that’s fielding a new import in Terrence Watson in their much-anticipated PBA Governors’ Cup matchup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
But the Gin Kings can clearly see that it’s the Beermen’s local core they should be more worried about when the two title-favorite sister squads square off at 6:45 p.m.
“They’re the all-Filipino champions,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said after their 98-81 win over Blackwater on Friday. “They were the all-Filipino champions by a long way. They won the all-Filipino championship rather easily. Their starting five is just on another level from everybody else.”
“We’re all trying to reach that level, but they’re on another level,” he added. “The five when they get on the floor together, they’re like a well-oiled machine. Their roles are down, they know what they’re gonna be. They’ve got such great balance: they’ve got three great shooters out there. They’ve got a huge inside presence. They’ve got three guys who can penetrate the basket. It’s just a really well-balanced team."
Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo have so much cohesion that Cone went as far as saying that having an import can even disrupt their chemistry.
“Sometimes, the import goes out there and screws up that chemistry of the five guys,” Cone said. “But then they get deeper with import because now Arwind can come off the bench, and that makes them a deeper lineup. So now you got six guys out there that can rotate at another level.”
“So we are concerned about Watson, we haven’t seen him play but we’re really more concerned about the local crew,” he added. “That’s the team we got to be able to stop.”
That’s the depth the Gin Kings are facing as they stake their seven-game win streak against the grand slam-seeking Beermen, who are eager to rebuild their momentum and improve their 4-3 win-loss card.