DEFENDING champion Barangay Ginebra will set out as the top favorite when it meets dangerous NLEX at the start of their best-of-five semifinal encounter in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Led by Best Import awardee Justin Brownlee and PBAPC “Player of the Week” winner Scottie Thompson, the Gin Kings are favored to beat the Road Warriors in their 6 p.m. encounter.
The Gin Kings, after all, have won three of the last four editions of the PBA Governors’ Cup since 2015.
But Ginebra coach Tim Cone knows the challenge facing his team.
“I get to go against (NLEX coach) Yeng Guiao, which is never fun… never, ever, ever fun. You never look forward to that,” said Cone in an interview posted at the official PBA website.
Guiao is also not complaining about the underdog tag of his team.
“We focus on our improvement, our progress. We don’t want to focus on Ginebra because the more you worry about them, the more pressure it is for us,” said Guiao, who steered NLEX to a second place finish in the elimination round.
Although playing on the opposite side of the fence, both Ginebra and NLEX needed two gmes to finish off their quarterfinal opponents.
No. 6 Ginebra defeated No. 3 TNT Tropang Giga twice, 104-92 and 115-95, to book its ticket to the semis.
No. 2 NLEX, on the other hand, survived scare before eliminating No. 7 Alaska Milk, 96-80.
The twice-to-beat Road Warriors dropped the first game, 79-93.
Top seed Magnolia Pambansang Manok and No. 4 Meralco clash in the other semifinal showdown at 3 p.m..
The Hotshots, who topped the elimination round, and the Bolts needed only a win to eliminate their quarterfinals opponents, Phoenix Super LPG and San Miguel Beer.
Now the Hotshots and the Bolts are expected to fight it out in what could be a “dogfight.”
“I think this is going to be a dogfight,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero following the Hotshots’ 127-88 romp over the Fuel Masters last Friday.
“We expect this is gonna be a very good series because both teams go hard, play defense, we both grind it out.We don’t expect it to be easy,” added Victolero.