Ginebra, SMB take spotlight

‘If we play bad defense, our offense will suffer.’

Games today:
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — Converge vs San Miguel Beer
6:45 p.m. — Barangay Ginebra vs NLEX

Barangay Ginebra makes its move towards a coveted spot in the Final Four when it plays NLEX today at the start of the Philippine basketball Association Governors’ Cup playoffs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After being denied the top spot at the end of the elimination round by TNT Tropang Giga Friday night, the Gin Kings are tipped to get past the Road Warriors in their 6:45 p.m. showdown.

The top four teams — TNT, San Miguel Beer, Ginebra and Meralco — enjoy twice-to-beat advantages over their respective foes, teams that placed fifth up to eight at the end of the eliminations.

In the curtainraiser, San Miguel faces Converge at 4:30.

Still, focus will be on defending champion Ginebra, who will be parading Justin Brownlee in its quest to make their reinforcement, a three-time best import pick, the winningest import in the history of the league in the event the squad tops the conference.

The encounter between Barangay Ginebra and NLEX is like a rematch of last season’s playoffs.

In the last Governors’ Cup, Ginebra had to beat TNT twice in the quarterfinal round before meeting NLEX and defeating it in the semis.

Like the Gin Kings, the Beermen are also favored to settle the score with their matchup with the FiberXers, who are unveiling a new import in Tom Vodanovich.

A former member of the New Zealand national team, Vodanovich will replace the explosive Jamaal Franklin, who couldn’t get along with head coach Aldin Ayo.

Vodanovich just led the New Zealand Breakers to the National Basketball League championship.

San Miguel, on the other hand, will be entering the playoff phase missing a very important piece in their rotation — six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, who is still recuperating after injuring his Medial Collateral Ligament during the team’s campaign in the East Asia Super League Champions Week.

This means that import Cameron Clark, veteran forward Vic Manuel and back-up center Mo Tautuaa would all have to step up to the plate anew.

“I’ve spoken to Vic and Mo and told them now is their time to shine,” said San Miguel Beer coach Jorge Gallent. “They’re both great players and I know they can perform well.”

But more than the production head coach Gallent wants the defensive facet of San Miguel to get better.

“We just have to play good defense. Our main goal is to play good defense. If we play bad defense, our offense will suffer.”

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