Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs Meralco
5:45 p.m. – Petron vs Talk ’N Text
Manila, Philippines – League-leader Barangay Ginebra shoots for its sixth straight victory as it tries to avenge a first round loss to Meralco today in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Kings, coming off a 97-83 win over sister team Petron Blaze on Christmas Day, take on the Bolts at 3:30 p.m. in the first meeting of both teams since Dec. 3.
In that game, Meralco dealt Ginebra a stunning 100-87 loss with Jared Dillinger making 25 points and 10 rebounds while Mike Cortez added 21 points and 11 assists.
The loss served as a wake-up call for the talent-laden Ginebra squad, which went on to win its next five games behind its twin tower combination of rookie Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.
Ginebra is now the hottest team in the PBA following its big win versus Petron, where Aguilar collected 25 points and 11 boards Slaughter added 18 points and eight rebounds.
Mark Caguioa came off the bench to score 18 points, proving that the former Most Valuable Player can still make contributions despite playing in one of the league’s deepest teams.
“We made some adjustments. We prepared well for this game,” said Ginebra mentor Ato Agustin.
Meralco, tied with idle teams Alaska and Barako Bull for seventh place at 3-6, has lost its last three games despite the return of their injured players Cliff Hodge and Reynel Hugnatan.
The second game will feature defending three-time champion Talk N’ Text and Petron at 5:45 p.m. with the Tropang Texters eyeing to climb up to solo second in the standings.
TNT is fresh from an 87-82 victory against Air21 last Sunday and would like to capitalize on the absence of Fajardo, who will sat out anew for sustaining his injury during Monday’s practice session.
Coach Norman Black, however, is not taking the short-handed Boosters lightly.
“Even with the absence of June Mar, Petron still has very talented players, so we don’t have time to relax,” said Black. “We must stay focused on winning and improving our game. Just like them, we also have been slowed down by injuries this conference.”
Veteran point guard Jimmy Alapag is expected to return to action for Talk N’ Text after missing the last two games due to a groin injury.
Petron opened the conference with a 7-0 record but lost to Rain or Shine in overtime, 99-95, last Dec. 21. Against Ginebra, the Boosters shot just 31-of-86 (36%) from the field and was outrebounded, 53-48.
In their first meeting last Nov. 23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Petron beat Talk N’ Text, 77-63, as reigning MVP Arwind Santos made 15 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. (Waylon Galvez)