San Mig faces crowd favorite Ginebra in PBA semis today

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Monday, January 27, 2014


MANILA—Top seed Ginebra San Miguel battles San Mig Coffee today at the start of their best-of-seven semifinal series of the 39th

PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Kings will suit up in the match with two days’ rest after ending the hope of no. 8 Alaska Aces with a 108-95 win last Saturday to keep their hope of ending a six-year title drought alive. They won a crown for the last time in the 2008 Fiesta Cup.

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Coach Tim Cone’s Coffee Mixers, on the other hand, needed three games before finally dethroning Talk ‘N Text via a pulsating 90-82 triumph on Sunday for a 2-1 edge in their best-of-three quarterfinals battle and face Ginebra in the semis with a day’s rest. They won Game 1, 90-83, on Jan. 21 but lost Game 2, 82-77, last Friday.

Odds are about even when Ginebra and San Mig Coffee face each other at 8 p.m as the
sister teams split their two meetings in the elimination round. The Kings won 86-68 demolition on Nov. 17, but the Coffee Mixers bounced back with an 83-79 victory on Jan. 5.

In the other semis match, second seed Rain or Shine was still battling third seed Petron Blaze also in Game One at press time.

“We started bad in the conference then right now we are in the top 4. I am stoked and pumped playing Ginebra in the semis. Having just one day to prepare is going to be tough. Ginebra is coming off such a huge, huge win against Alaska. It’s going to be tough to meet their energy on Tuesday, but our guys are veterans. They’ve been to the playoffs. They’re going to recover and get themselves ready,” said Cone, the winningest coach in the league with 15 titles.

Even two-time most valuable player (MVP) James Yap and reliable Marc Pingres vowed an exciting battle when they aim to stop the Kings and secure their 11th overall crown, their most recent was the Governor’s cup last September.

“This is going to be another classic encounter. I’m sure our fans will enjoy this series,” said Yap, who is still nursing a hyper extended elbow injury.

For his part, the 6’4” forward Pingres, a third overall pick by FedEx in 2004, asked San Mig fans to come and bring speakers or drums to create noise amidst the expected throng of Ginebra sympathizers.

“I’m calling all our fans to bring speakers or drums on Tuesday. This is a tough series for us. But we have to get it, we have to work hard for it,” said Pingres.

Coach Ato Agustin, however, expressed confidence his wards, led by top rookie Greg Slaughter and 6’9” Japeth Aguilar can withstand the challenge and secure their ninth championship since joining the league in 1979.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2014.

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