We all know what to expect every time Ginebra and Talk N’ Text face each other – an epic game. We know it will be an all-out war between the two teams. The first time they met this conference, Ginebra demolished TNT 107-100 with Mark Caguioa scoring an impressive 28 points. During their second meeting, TNT bounced back and beat Ginebra 100-86. Jerome Jordan was the best player of that game with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Point Guard (LA Tenorio vs. Jayson Castro) – This will be fun to watch. The Gineral vs The Blur. Tenorio has become a Best Player of the Conference candidate with his stellar performance. He is averaging 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per ballgame while Castro has been on a roller coaster ride averaging only 13.6 points per game on 38.3% field goal shooting. How these two will perform will be a major factor on which team will come out victorious. ADVANTAGE: Even
Shooting Guard (Chris Ellis vs. Larry Fonacier) – Chris Ellis may be asked to guard Castro at times but his primary match-up is Larry Fonacier. Larry is known to play big during crucial moments. On the other side of the fence, this is the first time Ellis will be playing in the playoffs. He needs to avoid getting into foul trouble to stay in the game. ADVANTAGE: Fonacier
Small Forward (Mac Baracael vs. Ryan Reyes) – Another player who is used to playing big under pressure is Ryan Reyes. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Baracael will have a hard time scoring his points against Reyes but I’m sure he won’t be giving up too easily. ADVANTAGE: Reyes
Power Forward (Kerby Raymundo vs. Ranidel De Ocampo) – This is another great match-up. Both can post up, both can score outside and both are very competitive. It’s close as it gets – Kerby has finally found his game, averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the last 2 games against Rain or Shine. He’ll be facing (arguably) the best power forward in the league today in Ranidel. It will definitely be fun to watch these two battle it out. ADVANTAGE: Even
Center (Vernon Macklin vs. Jerome Jordan) – Macklin must bounce back against Jordan after their first match-up that resulted with Macklin’s worst performance of the season. Macklin has proven that he is a big time player with his performance against Rain or Shine. Jordan on the other hand needs to bounce back from his two subpar games against Petron in the quarter finals. ADVANTAGE: Macklin
Bench – When you look at the bench of TNT they have Alapag, Dillinger, Peek, Al-Hussaini and Carey. That’s a bunch of players that can start for any other team. At first glance, anyone would say that TNT has the advantage. However, we have to remember that Ginebra won against Rain or Shine, the team with the deepest bench in the league. With that said, you definitely won’t be betting against Ginebra’s bench. They have a revitalized Jayjay Helterbrand and Rudy Hatfield, as well as a great point guard in Josh Urbiztondo. They also have trusty enforcers in Mamaril and Taha. You cannot overlook Ginebra’s heart and passion especially during big games. ADVANTAGE: Even
Keys to the Series:
1. Macklin must dominate – In their first encounter, Macklin dominated Harvey. He scored 24 points on only 16 shots. In the second outing, he only had 12 points – shooting a dismal 3-of-12 from the field. He must dominate in his match-up against Jordan by taking advantage of Jordan’s lack of offensive prowess.
2. The Bench play – Ginebra has proven that they can win against bigger teams. Helterbrand is back and so is Hatfield. Labagala can provide quality minutes. Espiritu can give a scoring punch when needed. They need to continue to play big if they want to destroy another giant.
3. The Spark – Every Macklin dunk will provide a spark for this team. An Urbiztondo three will spark the crowd. How about the RETURN of the real Spark? Yes I am talking about the return of Mark Caguioa here. His return will definitely provide the spark for his team and for the ever supportive Barangay Ginebra crowd.
Prediction: Ginebra will dispatch TNT in 4 games. Yes, I know that’s a BOLD prediction. Urbiztondo is due for a big game and a return from Mark Caguioa will inspire the team. Also, I’m predicting that LA Tenorio will receive his first Best Player award as a Ginebra player.