No, Barangay Ginebra is not yet ready to push the panic button. But, with their current struggles and standing in the conference, the team may end up pushing the button sooner than later.
After suffering back-to-back defeats and onto 1-3 win-loss record, the Gin Kings must quickly find a solution to end their losing streak. Facing Air 21 will give Ginebra a very, very good chance to get back into the winning column, as the Express are currently at the bottom of the team standings with 1-4 slate. But, losing to them tomorrow will send Ginebra to the abyss that Air 21 is currently occupying. The schedule is something that is also not working in Ginebra’s favor as after this game, they will have four games left against Rain or Shine, San Mig Coffee, Global Port and Talk N’ Text. That’s as tough as it gets.
Ginebra will continue to miss the services of Japeth Aguilar (who is out until the playoffs) and Kerby Raymundo (out indefinitely). The reported reactivation of one-time PBA MVP Eric Menk is still on the process, so they will once again be short when it comes to the frontline. Expect Coach Franz to try and force the issue inside which has the potential of making this game pretty testy. With that, Ginebra should remember to focus on their game and not on the referees.
Keys to the game:
1. Dynamic Duo
The duo of Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio
is can be the best backcourt in the PBA. But, eversince the duo was formed, they haven’t had a convincingly good game together. This is a good time as any for duo to put their games together and push this team towards a victory.
2. Shoot that ball
Ginebra is the league leading team when it comes to assists as they average 21.5 dimes per game. This number could actually even be higher if the team just made more shots.. particularly from beyond the arc. They showed some good signs in their last game against Alaska (30.4% from beyond the arc). They may lead the league in dimes now, but this team still misses a lot of wide-open attempts from the field.
3. Limit Graham
Zach Graham has been carrying the load for Air21. The lack of consistent local scoring has forced him to be Air 21’s first, second and even third option on offense. If Ginebra could defend him like they did Mario West, then this game will be a walk in the park.
Key match-up: LA Tenorio vs. Mike Cortez
It’s Ateneo vs. La Salle once again in a battle of former collegiate stars. LA has been producing across the board with 13.6 points 4.8 rebounds and 8.0 assists this conference, while the Cool Cat has been consistent as well with 10.8 points 3.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Both are being relied heavily by their team and their match-up will surely be a treat for fans to watch.
I’m picking Ginebra on this one. They can’t afford to lose against a weaker team and fall to last place in the team standings.