The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the NLEX Road Warriors are the main feature of tonight’s PBA All-Filipino Cup resumption in Angeles City, Pampanga.
No Greg Slaughter and the out of game shape from LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar are probably some of the concerns of the Gin Kings as they make its 2020 PBA Philippine Cup debut tonight at 6:45 PM.
After snagging the championship trophy of the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup, a conference which they dominated in the past few years along with their gifted import Justin Brownlee. This evening it’ll be a totally different Ginebra squad at least at the initial phase of the tournament.
Head coach Tim Cone knew exactly what to do and instead of focusing their strategy against the opposing team, the multi-awarded mentor looks inside their fence.
“We’re a little bit more concerned about preparing ourselves rather than preparations for NLEX at this point,” said Cone.
Japeth and LA just joined Ginebra inside the PBA bubble in Pampanga last week and their immediate contribution is in question.
“Just the day before the game is the time that we’re getting LA and Japeth back into this lineup so we don’t know if we’ll get contributions from them in our first game,” Cone pointed out.
“But we certainly have guys who can step in and fill the void so that’s who we’ll go with,” added Cone.
“One thing for sure, everybody is excited to play again.”
Though the Ginebra fans will be missed in this year’s All-Filipino Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic as social distancing is one of the protocols of the IATF to stop the spread of the virus for sure they’ll be virtually present.
Just like the NBA bubble in Orlando, the PBA has also announced earlier that they will install large monitors inside the AUF Gym to give the players a live game atmosphere.
With regards to fans vacant seats, this scenario is no longer new to Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao.
Coach Yeng was then appointed head coach of Gilas Pilipinas that topple team Qatar during the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Smart Araneta Coliseum back in 2018.
“Na-experience namin yan,” said Guiao. “It’s kind of surreal. It felt really weird you’re playing in your home country, in the home stadium and there’s nobody cheering for you. I think it affected us,” he added.
According to coach Yeng, an empty venue means an even ground to all of the 12 PBA teams considering the proud sixth man of the Barangay is missing.
“Lahat kami (all 11 others teams) ang magbe-benefit kasi wala kaming laban sa fans ng Ginebra. Great equalizer ang tawag dyan,” he said.