(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m.-- San Miguel vs. NLEX
7 p.m. --Ginebra vs. Alaska
SISTER teams San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra have handsome chances of making the semifinal round ahead of everybody today in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Beermen and the Gin Kings can clinch spots in the best-of-5 semi-final series of the season-ending tournament with victories over NLEX and Alaska, respectively.
Both the Beermen and the Gin Kings have two cracks each at the Final Four for finishing at the upper half of the Magic 8 after the elimination round, with the former ending second at 8-3 behind top seed Talk ‘N Text and the latter third at 8-3.
But the Beermen need to be more cohesive this time if they are to win in the 4:15 p.m. tussle with the Road Warriors whom they barely beat during the elimination, 94-93, last July 22.
“Told them (Beermen) to play with pride every time,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, who is looking to steer the Beermen back to the semifinals of the same tournament they won last season at the expense of the Alaska Aces.
Just as interesting is the 7 p.m. quarterfinal encounter between the Gin Kings and the Aces where coaches of both camps have issued cautions in their duel.
“Of all the teams in the lower four, Alaska is the last team we would choose to play,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.
And the league’s most decorated coach has every reason to be wary enough of the Aces, having been their coach for so many years.
Cone is particularly concerned about the Aces’ dramatic finish in the elimination.
“After a tough start, they have righted themselves nicely and are playing their dynamic game again,” said Cone, knowing full well that the Aces cornered all their last four outings in the elimination.
“We just have to make sure we don’t allow them to disrupt too much what we like to do. No doubt, we have the toughest road to the semis, but we like the challenge in front of us,” added Cone.
Alaska coach Alex Compton, for his part, said the challenge is up on his Aces who have to beat the Gin Kings twice to seal a return trip to the semi-final round.
“This is a great challenge for us. Ginebra has earned the twice-to-beat advantage and we have to find a way to overcome that,” said Compton.
“The only way to overcome that is to first do everything possible to win tomorrow (today). I think they are a good team and I think we are a good team. So I expect a great game for the PBA fans tomorrow. Hopefully we can force another game on Sunday,” added Compton.
Meanwhile, Chris Ellis remains grounded as he continues to recover from a groin injury that has bothered him since the start of the season-ending conference and will miss the game against the Aces.
Although he’s been re-activated by the Kings in lieu of another injured key player in Greg Slaughter, the high-flying forward won’t be available for the team’s playoffs clash against Alaska.
While Cone acknowledged the Aces ‘are playing their dynamic game again,’ he’s still not in a hurry to have Ellis back on the floor - at least not until he’s full recovered from the injury.
“He’s still injured and he’s not been practicing (with us),” said top Ginebra deputy Olsen Racela.
In an earlier talk with SPIN.ph, Ellis admitted being restrained from doing any physical activities by team doctors in order for his hurting groin to fully heal.
The 27-year-old Fil-Am said he’s actually playing through the injury right from the start of the conference that allowed him to suit up earlier for the Kings.
But team doctors advised him to rest the injury after a tear was later found in the groin area.
In other developments, Meralco coach Norman Black is honored to reach the same level as Baby Dalupan as far as number of wins as a coach in the PBA is concerned.
After becoming only the fourth coach to notch 600 wins in the league, the Meralco coach tied Dalupan with 601 wins for third spot in the all-time list after leading the Bolts to a 104-99 victory over Mahindra in their playoff for the fourth seed in the Governors’ Cup postseason on Wednesday night.