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Ginebra shoots for share of lead

Ian Suyu



Tim Cone isn’t expecting a walk in the park against Magnolia. DAILY TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

Games today:
(AUF Arena)
4:00 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs Blackwater
6:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs Magnolia

CLARK — Ginebra attempts to join TNT on top as it faces struggling Magnolia in a crowdless battlefield in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City.

Rain or Shine and Blackwater bid to find their way back in the win column when they collide in the 4pm opener.

Oozing with confidence entering the 6:45 p.m. game, Ginebra is undeniably on a high after grabbing its fourth straight victory by crushing Phoenix, 86-71, its best start under Tim Cone.

But Cone expects a gritty and aggressive encounter on both sides of the floor as the Kings gun for a 5-0 record.

“I know both teams will go all out for this Manila Clasico. I really think there is no doubt about that,” said Cone, who steered the Hotshots to its historic grand slam run in 2014, before transferring to Ginebra a year after.

“We’re not taking any day-offs for this one, we cannot afford to do it. Every day, we push our guys up for training and workouts.”

Even though the Kings won’t be having the luxury of playing before an audience, their offensive firepower remains stacked with Japeth Aguilar now imposing his might and LA Tenorio finding his groove on the floor.

Meanwhile, that is not entirely the case for Magnolia.

Entering their first Manila Clasico without veteran leader Marc Pingris and recently-retired PJ Simon, the Hotshots are in a world of trouble after falling in a three-game losing skid inside the bubble.

Billed as one of the contenders for this bubble conference, Magnolia was able to equalize their pre-pandemic loss to San Miguel by a thrilling 103-00 opening win against NLEX.

But the squad went skidding after an 87-81 loss Alaska, followed by a 109-104 overtime setback to Meralco, and a 91-84 collapse against Phoenix.

“We now really need to have a sense of urgency for us to get another win,” said Magnolia head coach Victolero. “Hopefully, we could execute (our plans) properly.”