Whoever comes out as winner in the quarterfinals series between TNT KaTropa and Meralco, Ginebra coach Tim Cone is certain they will have their hands full in the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
That’s because the Kings will be up against the ‘Hulk’.
“We move on and now we go against some kind of hulking import,” said Cone, referring to reinforcements Joshua Smith of TNT and Alexander Stepheson of Meralco, two tall and wide-bodied imports that can pass as linebackers in American football.
“Those teams, Meralco and Talk ‘N Text, have hulks,” added Cone as the top seed and twice-to-beat Ginebra advanced to the best-of-five semifinal series after it dispatched Globalport in their quarterfinal game with a 96-85 win last Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
TNT and Meralco are playing at presstime at the Big Dome, and a win by the KaTropa will arrange a showdown against the Kings.
Regardless of the outcome, Ginebra will go up against either Stepheson or Smith, who both stand 6-foot-10.
While the TNT and Meralco have beefy imports, Ginebra has small but explosive reinforcement in 6-foot-6 Justin Brownlee.
Brownlee is deadly from the perimeter – small wonder he averages 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists this conference.
“They’re going to be really tough for us to defend,” said Cone, whose team downed both TNT (107-89) and Meralco (90-89) during the elimination round.
“We’ve had trouble on those guys all the way through but we’ll have to figure out something for them. Josh Smith and Alex Stepheson are both just huge guys but we hope that they battle it out, go into triple overtime in Game 3. We’ll take whichever shows up,” he added.
Ginebra may get additional help against either Smith or Stepheson as 7-foot center Greg Slaughter rejoined the roster but didn’t play against Globalport. It took nine months for Slaughter to fully recover from an ACL injury.