By JONAS TERRADO
(AUF Gym Powered by Smart 5G)
4 p.m. ‒ Rain or Shine vs NorthPort
6:45 p.m. ‒ Ginebra vs Meralco
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Rain or Shine look to stretch their unbeaten start to three games when they face separate teams today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
The Kings take on the Meralco Bolts at 6:45 p.m. in their first meeting since last season’s Governors’ Cup Finals while the Elasto Painters battle the winless NorthPort Batang Pier in the curtain raiser at 4 p.m.
Ginebra opened the bubble season with victories over NLEX (102-92) and Blackwater (103-99) while Rain or Shine downed defending champion San Miguel Beer (87-83) and Terrafirma (91-82).
Coach Tim Cone said having a 2-0 start is already a bonus for Ginebra since LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar are still groping for form after arriving late in the bubble.
Tenorio has logged only a total of 19 minutes and scored just a single point in the two games since he’s still recovering from an appendectomy procedure done several weeks ago while Aguilar registered an average of 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.
“It’s obvious to everyone that they are not 100 percent, they came in late. That’s been probably our biggest adjustment and the guys got to step up,” said Cone.
But the likes of Stanley Pringle and Scottie Thompson have been consistent while Aljon Mariano and Prince Caperal were adjudged as Player of the Game in the two wins.
Caperal fired a career-high 24 points on five threes, filling in nicely in lieu of the struggles of Aguilar and the absence of free agent Greg Slaughter.
Meralco is carrying a 1-1 record after a 93-81 victory over Alaska last Wednesday.
Bolts coach Norman Black is hoping for more consistency from Allein Maliksi and Baser Amer while center Raymond Almazan plays Ginebra for the first time since injuring his knee in the Finals.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine has gotten almost every key player stepping up, namely youngsters Javee Mocon and Rey Nambatac and veterans Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood.
Mocon has scored a team-high 19.5 points and grabbed 8.0 rebounds through two games while Nambatac has found ways to deliver despite contrasting performances against SMB and Terrafirma.
Even unheralded players like Kris Rosales, Sidney Onwubere and Jewel Ponferrada are also giving coach Caloy Garcia solid contributions in the two wins.
NorthPort is out to end a 0-2 start behind stars Christian Standhardinger (25.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists) and Sean Anthony (22.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.0 steals).