BEERMEN, GIN KINGS EYE SEMIS
BY RICHARD DY
POWERHOUSE sister teams San Miguel Beer (SMB) and Barangay Ginebra eye quick knockout blows against separate opponents as the 2022-2023 PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals start on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen finished the single-round eliminations at 9-2, en route to capturing the second seed entering the opening round of the playoffs.
SMB takes on seventh-ranked Converge in the opening game at 4:30 p.m.
On the other hand, the league’s top crowd-drawer Ginebra takes on sixth seed NLEX in the main game at 6:45 p.m.
Both sister ball clubs only need to win once to advance to the best-of-five semifinal series after being in the top four at the end of the eliminations.
The Beermen closed the elims with back-to-back wins, including Friday’s 126-114 triumph over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
And while star center June Mar Fajardo will be out for the remainder of the playoffs due to an MCL sprain on his left knee, the Beermen remain a solid bunch as the local veteran crew of CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Vic Manuel, Moala Tautuaa and Chris Ross are all there to provide a strong support to import Cameron Clark.
Interestingly, Converge dealt San Miguel its first loss for the conference on February 11, 107103. The only difference there was Jamaal Franklin was still the FiberXers’ import at that time.
Franklin, who averaged over 31 points and 11 rebounds, and more than seven boards during his stint with Converge, has been sent home at the close of the team’s elimination round campaign for refusing to play within the team system.
The former San Diego State U standout has been replaced by New Zealand Tall Black forward Tom Vodanovich who arrived last Thursday.
A known bruising big man, the 6-foot-7 Vodanovich has no plans of becoming a one-and-done import for Converge, as the Aldin Ayocoached squad looks to steal one this Sunday and hopefully, forge a knockout duel in the process.
In the main game, Ginebra knows the playoffs will be a different ball game, a reason why the Gin Kings are out to finish off the Road Warriors.
The playoff collision is a rematch between these two teams which faced off during the Governors’ Cup semifinal series last season. Ginebra won the series, 3-1.
Best Import candidate Justin Brownlee will again be at the forefront of Ginebra’s back-to-back title aspirations. And he’ll have plenty of help coming from vastly improved wingman Jamie Malonzo, reigning league Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Nards Pinto, Jeremiah Gray and bruising big man Christian Standhardinger.
The Gin Kings still won’t have injured slotman Japeth Aguilar and playmaker LA Tenorio.
The Manila Times