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San Miguel is team to watch

  • Written by Elmer N. Manuel
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 205

Games Sunday

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4:30 p.m.  -- NLEX vs. Phoenix

6:45 p.m.  -- Ginebra vs. Globalport

GINEBRA has started off its Philippine Cup campaign on a high note, dominating its debut game in the
season-opening conference with an 89-78 victory over Magnolia on Christmas Day, but the Gin Kings
believe that it’s hardly a statement so far.

For  Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio, sister team San Miguel is still the team to watch out
for in any all-Filipino tournament in Asia’s first play-for-pay league.
    
“All-Filipino, San Miguel is still the team to beat,” Tenorio told Karlo Sacamos of SPIN.ph.
“Sila pa rin yung defending champs, so lahat ng teams sila pa rin yung target.”
    
Tenorio insists that the road to all-Filipino glory still goes through the Beermen, who has
won its first two games to gain a share of the early lead with NLEX.
    
Ginebra had finished seventh overall in the eliminations of the previous Philippine Cup but
became one of the lowest-seeded teams to go all the way to the finals before losing to the Beermen in
five games in their best-of-seven series.
    
The Gin Kings regained a measure of revenge against the Beermen in the Governors’ Cup,
eliminating the Beermen in the quarterfinals to put an end to their ambitious grand slam quest.
    
Although they are really out to prove that they can beat San Miguel without an import -- with
big men Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar zeroing in on the Beermen’s  tower June Mar Fajardo  --
Tenorio is quick to play down the hype, saying they still have a long way to go before earning the
lofty tag.
    
“Our goal naman is to go to the playoffs first, win games as many as we can in the
eliminations, and put ourselves in a good position during the playoffs,” the veteran playmaker said.
“And then I think from the playoffs, dun naman talaga makikita kung hanggang saan makakarating.”
    
“But nakikita ko yung chances namin, nandun pa rin kami because we’re experienced and intact
yung team namin,” he was quick to add. “May mga injuries kami, but hopefully maging solid kami.”
    
Ginebra coach Tim Cone, on the other hand, only sees one player capable of matching up well
with four-time MVP Fajardo -- Slaughter.
    
As Slaughter remains healthy and continues to improve, Cone boldly anointed his prized big
man as the key to unlocking the mystery of ‘The Kraken.’
    
“He’s the only real answer to June Mar and we’re fortunate to have him,” said Cone.
    
The seven-foot Slaughter had an auspicious debut in the PBA Philippine Cup, coming away with
24 points (10-of-14 from the field), 13 rebounds and four block shots as the Kings turned back the
Hotshots.