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The RSA and MVP Groups’ rivalry resumes


PhilBoxing.com


Barangay Ginebra, left to carry the brunt of San Miguel Corporation’s campaign in the on-going PBA Philippine Cup bubble, tries to salvage what is left to the company’s pride going into the semifinal round today of the lone offering of the league’s celebration of its 45th Season also known as the All-Filipino Conference.

The Ramon S. Ang (RSA) Group had advanced all of its three teams to the Final 8 of the Conference as against two of rival Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) Group, but only managed to enter the Gin Kings to the Magic 4 phase of the tourney.

Title-defending San Miguel Beer, ruler of this Conference the past five years, and had a twice-to-beat advantage by ending up fifth in the elimination round, was thwarted by Meralco in the Beermen’s bid for a six-peat.

Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, the RSA Group’s third hopes, on the other hand, lost to Phoenix Super LPG, also in the quarterfinal round.

The Gin Kings, the top-seed after the elims, made it at the expense of Rain or Shine and earn a rematch with the Bolts, who, they beat thrice in the Finals of the Governors’ Cup. Advancing, too, to the semis are the TNT Tropang Giga, who ousted the Alaska Aces.

Coach Tim Cone’s Kings and the Bolts of fellow American mentor Norman Black will be erasing each other anew under a new setting and with several new characters starting today although, by the looks if it, the odds aren’t change in favor of Ginebra.

Prized import Justin Brownlee, the man responsible for the Kings’s conquest of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Governors’ Cup, won’t be around this time and so is towering Greg Slaughter, who before the bubble opted to rest from basketball.

Reasons for coach Black to express confidence to pull through. The stake – that of having a chance to forge a title encounter versus sister team Tropang Giga – is so big to pass on.

“No, I’m not thinking about that,” Black told THE MANILA TIMES Monday in an interview. “But why not?” The 39-year Philippine resident and his TNT counterpart Bong Ravena might both be pondering about.

A Meralco versus TNT finale is a sure fire motivation so that, at least, whoever wins, succeeds in ending a six-year title drought for the MVP Group, which last won a PBA championship in 2014 courtesy of the then Katropang Texters coached by ex-SMB tactician himself Jong Uichico.

“We, definitely, will give it our best,” Black, the third winningest coach in the 45-year history of the play-for-pay league with a total 11, next only to Cone himself and the late legendary Baby Dalupan of Crispa, assured this writer.

And he has other reasons.

“It’ll be hard,” he said. “But I believe what we lacked in our previous defeats to them (in Governors’ Cup), we succeeded in finding solutions to them.”

Black, though, admitted his biggest problem now would be the Kings’ new acquisition Stanley Pringle, who he confessed is the league’s best player.

“Pringle is truly good, he’s hard to stop,” he said, adding Ginebra’s advantage inside the paint manned by high-flying Japeth Aguilar, he believed has been addressed with the presence of Raymond Almazan.

“Almazan has been playing better already and can fill in the vacuum that we lacked before,” Black assured.

Black also mentioned versatile Kings’ guard Scottie Thompson as another problem, saying, though, he can find someone to contain him as well as Ginebra’s team leader L.A. Tenorio.

“We’ve made this far by surviving the defending champions themselves (the Beermen) where we and the other 10 teams failed the past five years. It’s a good sign of what our boys are capable of doing.”

Experience will also be the Tropang Giga’s biggest edge over the Phoenix Fuel Masters, who, like the Bolts, are playing in the best-of-five semis for the first time.

Winding up the No. 2 in the slims and disposing off the Magnolia Hotshots, runner up in this same Conference the last two years, certainly is proof to coach Topex Robinson’s Fuel Masters’ ascension as legitimate title contenders.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea of The Manila Times.


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