March 02, 2024

Ginebra title defense switches to high gear: Keys to the game

Ginebra title defense switches to high gear: Keys to the game

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has had to deal with a tough, compressed schedule and lost two key players along the way—leader LA Tenorio for the rest of the tournament and big man Japeth Aguilar for possibly until the semis or Finals.

Through it all, here is Ginebra in the quarterfinals. And they are right where they want to be: a third seed with a twice-to-beat advantage (the defending champs were third seeds in their first two Governors’ Cup conquests). The team is also facing a familiar foe in the NLEX Road Warriors.

With all that said, here are the keys to what figures to be an exciting matchup between Tim Cone’s team and Frankie Lim’s wards:

Three-point shooting

The Road Warriors live by the three. When they fire from all cylinders from 23 feet out, they are very hard to beat. But they also die by the three. They got hot from downtown in the third quarter in their previous game versus Ginebra but went cold in the final six minutes. That allowed the crowd darlings to engineer a furious comeback led by . . . the trey ball. The defending champs have also weaponized the three-point shot, and they get good looks quite often. They need to connect as well.

Battle of the Bigs

Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser was fantastic the last time these two teams met, powering through inside, getting blocks, and controlling the boards—particularly in NLEX’s super third quarter. An encore would do the Road Warriors a whale of good. But Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger will surely have something to say about that. CStan has been on an absolute tear in his last six or so games, and he needs to be special again versus the dynamic, ferocious BGR.

Battle of the Imports

Wayne Selden Jr. and Justin Brownlee put on a show in their first head-to-head, but the former ran out of gas. In contrast, Kabayan picked up the pace in the fourth to lead Ginebra’s comeback. This is the playoffs, which means it is takeover mode time for JB. Selden needs to keep pace, or NLEX will be facing an early exit right away.

Locating Trollano

Don Trollano can get crazy hot real quick, and that’s usually trouble for the opposing team. Good thing Ginebra zoned in on him the last time around, limiting him to a measly six points. But Trollano, historically, has been a thorn on Ginebra’s side, so best believe he will go guns ablaze. That means the defending champs will have to do an even better job on him this time around.

All things considered, Ginebra appears to have the edge against NLEX. But expect the defending champs to encounter stiff resistance from the Road Warriors just the same . . .  again.