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PBA: Ginebra Kings face TNT Texters

By WAYLON GALVEZ

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. ­ Globalport vs Alaska
6:30 p.m. ­ Talk ‘N Text vs Barangay Ginebra

Manila, Philippines – The last time Barangay Ginebra San Miguel played, coach Alfrancis Chua and his boys scored a huge win as it downed defending champion San Mig Coffee in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Question is: Can the Kings sustain it?

Ginebra meets Talk ’N Text in what should be another exciting match up as both teams try to improve their respecting playoff bids in this reinforced conference today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The game between the Kings (2-5) and the Tropang Texters (4-3) is set at 6:30 p.m., right after the 4:15 p.m. encounter of league-leader Alaska Aces (6-2) and Globalport Batang Pier (2-6).

Last season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Mark Caguioa powered the Kings to a masterful 96-88 victory over the Mixers exactly a week ago as he fi red 25 points with five three-pointers, while import Vernon Macklin had 20 and 16 rebounds.

“It was a big win for us because it was against the defending champion. It’s good for the confidence of the players,” said Chua. “We know it’s not going to be easy playing TNT, but I believe in my players, they’ll be ready to fight.”

Since replacing its original import Keith Benson, and resigned former reinforcement Donnell Harvey, Talk ’N Text has won two in a row, including an 86-76 victory over Rain or Shine last Wednesday.

In that game, Harvey had 23 points to lead a balanced attack by TNT, which also got 17 markers from Larry Fonacier, while Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo added 11 points apiece, and Jimmy Alapag had 10 markers.

It’s going to be an interesting match between Macklin and Harvey, two imports who like to bang bodies and operate down low.

It’s not just the imports, though, as the locals are expected to step up with Caguioa leading the Kings’ charge anew while the Texters mentor Norman will rely again on his mainstays Castro, Alapag, de Ocampo, Fonacier, as well as Jared Dillinger, Rabah Al-Hussaini and Kelly Williams.

On the other hand, Alaska will try to rebound from a stunning 74-68 defeat to Air21 late Friday in Antipolo City.

“Both teams have not been consistent as of late but before we think about Globalport… we have to get ourselves right,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, whose team played sans injured point guard JV Casio (sprained ankle).

“JV has been clearly missed but it doesn’t make it an excuse that if he’s not there we cannot take care of the basketball. We committed 24 turnovers. We have not had that in a long time,” added Trillo.

Despite the setback, Alaska remains on top, with a halfgame lead on Rain or Shine and Petron Blaze – both with 5-2 cards – although the Elasto Painters or the Booters can gain a tie for the lead with a win as the two collide Saturday night in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

Globalport, currently at the bottom of the standings, is out to end a five-game losing skid.

“Survival mode,” said Globalport head coach Junel Baculi. “We need to toughen up on defense. We’re dead last because of our defense, or the desire to play defense. Our offense is fine, but we have to play defense.”

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