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Gin Kings, Hotshots launch their Commissioner’s Cup bids

BARANGAY Ginebra head coach Tim Cone draws their game. — PBA MEDIA

Games Today(MOA Arena)3 p.m. — Magnolia vs Terrafirma5:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs Rain or Shine

TWO heavyweights -— Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra — get their turns to launch their respective bids as the PBA Commissioner’s Cup resumes today at the MOA Arena after a storm-forced break last Sunday.

The Hotshots, semifinalists in the last Philippine Cup, parade debuting Serbian-American Nikola Rakocevic as they shoot for a winning start in their 3 p.m. tussle with Lester Prosper and Terrafirma.

The Gin Kings unleash resident import Justin Brownlee anew as they try to use the 5:45 p.m. tiff with Yeng Guiao’s Rain or Shine as their launch pad to their quest in the mid-season tournament.

The crowd darlings were supposed to open their campaign and test their slightly tweaked roster of trade acquisitions Jamie Malonzo and Von Pessumal and holdovers Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio and Christian Standhardinger last Sunday against Converge. But the league postponed that game, along with the duel between Meralco and NLEX, due to Super Typhoon Karding.

Ginebra and Magnolia eye 1-0 cards against opponents raring to bounce back from their opening losses.

The Elasto Painters failed to give Mr. Guiao a perfect welcome-back gift and lost to his former squad NLEX last Friday, 96-90, making the Steve Taylor-reinforced crew even more determined to pick up the W for him this time.

Ginebra mentor Tim Cone noted “it’s always difficult playing Coach Yeng teams” and tasked his charges to be mentally tough against his current gang.

Magnolia, meanwhile, faces a Terrafirma side reeling from its 124-110 defeat to the FiberXers last Friday, which extended its skid to 17 games overall dating back to the 2020 Philippine Cup.

Hotshots tactician Chito Victolero cautions his troops not to get lulled by their opponent’s dire situation.

“I told my players this is a dangerous game, it will be tough for us,” said Mr. Victolero. “Kung pagbabasehan iyung Converge game nila, baka mag-kumpyansa kami. But it’s a different game, different day. We have to play Magnolia Hotshots basketball.”

Terrafirma’s balik-import Prosper should be a major target of the Magnolia defense especially after his 43-point, 25-rebound game last time versus Converge.

Magnolia may also have to step up in case forward Calvin Abueva won’t be available. The do-it-all forward is listed as “game-time decision” due to an unspecified injury on the eve of the Hotshots’ tournament debut. — Olmin Leyba

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