Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco finally get their best-of-seven series for the PBA Governors’ Cup crown going Wednesday, April 6 with a big crowd expected to gather inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tipoff is set at 6 p.m. with the Gin Kings probably heading into the opener with the psychological edge, having won the previous three meetings over the Bolts for supremacy in the reinforced tournament.
Ginebra is also riding high on its playoff run that saw coach Tim Cone’s wards buck a sixth place finish in the eliminations to reach the finals for the seventh time under his tenure.
Another opportunity to win the championship, this time in front of the Ginebra faithful for the first time since the pandemic, is expected to provide another reason for the Gin Kings to feel motivated.
“Winning never gets old,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “Losing gets old in a real hurry, but winning never gets old.”
Meralco is out to foil those plans and hope that taking Game 1 would serve as an important step towards reversing the fortunes against Ginebra.
“I always think I can win. I always think my team’s gonna win,” Black said. “That’s our attitude going into this first game and the entire series.”
The imports will likely cancel each other out, with Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee seen to deliver another heroic performance and Meralco’s Tony Bishop aiming to make a significant impact.
That puts the importance on which local crew can step up, with Ginebra banking on Best Player of the Conference frontrunner Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, Christian Standhardinger, John Pinto, Jeff Chan and Arvin Tolentino.
Meralco tries to counter it with Allein Maliksi, Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge, Raymond Almazan, Bong Quinto and Aaron Black.
Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar, who won the Finals Most Valuable Player award when the two teams last met in a title series, and Aljon Mariano are still question marks going into Game 1.
Also a gametime decision is Chris Banchero, who would like to get himself in better condition in order to help the Bolts’ cause.