Blockbuster saturday

November 09, 2018

IT will be another Blockbuster Saturday for  basketball fans  with defending champion Barangay Ginebra  and Magnolia   Pambansang  Manok taking  on  each other today at the start of  their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The  6:30 p.m. match, billed as the “Manila Clasico”,  will feature two sister teams under the San Miguel Corp. banner with a long and colorful tradition of rivalry.

And  both Ginebra coach Tim Cone  and Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

Both coaches expect war in their semifinal  series, too.

“It’s going to be a tough one for  us,” said  Cone, referring  to the semifinal  matchup  against  Magnolia.

“But it should  be a great battle with two teams both peaking at the right time,” explained Cone.

Cone, also the league’s winningest coach while  handling Alaska, Magnolia and Ginebra, said the Gin Kings cannot take the Hotshots   lightly  even  if  they have beaten them in the last seven meetings.

Cone said the trend is no guarantee for success since both teams always play with extra motivation whenever they play against each other.  

“There’s always a different atmosphere to the game and the players seem to work extra hard to get ready for it,” added Cone.  

Victolero  said the Hotshots are  also  excited to be back in the semis.

“It’s nice to be back again in the semis. We missed it last conference,” said  Victolero. “But we all know we have a big task ahead of us. Obviously we’re underdogs in  this series against the defending champions.”

Victolero, who now has steered   Magnolia  to a   fifth Final Four in  six  conferences, recalled the only  time  the Hotshots missed the semis  was in the last Commissioner’s Cup, when they wound up seventh.

Both the Gin Kings and the Hotshots  finished  at top four in the  elimination round and earned twice-to-beat advantages in the quarterfinals..

They did not  take any chances  against  their quarterfinal opponents.

The  Gin Kings, who clinched top seed,  crushed  NLEX 111-75, while  the  Hotshots, who finished No. 4, eliminated Blackwater, 103-99.