Once again, Barangay Ginebra and Talk N’ Text will take part in a very important game. No, it’s not the finals yet, nor the semi-finals or even the quarterfinals, but yes, it is a do-or-die game where both teams are fighting for survival.
The winner of this game will take the 8th spot and advance to the quarters while the losing team will have an early vacation to end the season. Could you imagine a PBA playoffs without the crowd favorites or the perenial contenders? I’m not sure even if the league itself expected this. Personally, I just can’t imagine a PBA playoffs without a Mark Caguioa story or a close playoff game with TNT down by two points and Jimmy Alapag with that look on his eyes.
Something has to give here. Ginebra has been on a roller coaster ride this conference, while the Texters have had unlimited problems with their rotations and import(s). One team will come out victorious and one will go home. A Ginebra win will set-up a quarterfinals match-up with sister team Petron and on the other hand, a TNT win will force an all out do-or-die playoff on Monday. In essense, Ginebra will have two chances but they don’t want to put themselves in a hole and face a TNT team with their backs against the wall.
Keys to the game:
1. Who’s the 4?
Ginebra’s rotation is all set except the power forward position. Without Japeth, Ginebra was forced to used several role players to fill the gap. Unfortunately, nobody has stepped up. Rico Maierhofer has been good at times but he’s being bullied by bigger forwards. Billy Mamaril has looked very limited and his struggling to match-up with faster opponents. Lastly, Willie Wilson has become a liability on defense. Unless Coach Ato figures out a plan to get some good production out of his players, the power forward spot will continue to be a loophole for Ginebra.
2. Take care of the ball
In order to beat TNT, Ginebra must take care the ball. The last thing you want this TNT team to do is get their groove going by giving them easy fastbreak opportunities. Against Globalport, Ginebra shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over a lot in the 4th quarter. They had a total of 20 in the game, which is definitely too high.
3. Spark by chance
After exploding for 32 points against Rain or Shine, Caguioa suffered another bad game by scoring just 11 points against Globalport. For Ginebra to make it passed the elimination stages, Caguioa needs to play more consistently.
Key match-up: LA Tenorio vs. Jayson Castro
This is the battle of the two best point guards in the league and it will be quite the match-up. Despite his team’s struggles, Castro still remains very good in creating plays for himself and he still can score at will anywhere. On the other hand, Tenorio has been performing insanely this conference with his all around game and just like Castro, is very good at setting up teammates. It’s safe to say that these two Gilas point guards will be the key for their respective teams this game.
As much as I want to have a Monday do-or-die game I think this game will belong to Ginebra. The Talk N’ Text players are not on the same page this conference and the Gin kings will take advantage of it.