It will be a tough battle for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings when they begin their quarterfinal series with the top-seeded TNT Tropang Giga at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Gin Kings, who need to win twice to advance, could be short of two good men when they clash with the Tropang Giga.
With Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson unable to play, the Gin Kings will count on their reserves to fill the gaps in their manpower woes.
For now, the Gin Kings are holding on to a one-game momentum they gained last Saturday, after hurdling the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 95-85, in the battle for the eighth seeding.
With the victory, Ginebra became the first defending champion to become an eighth seeded squad after the San Miguel Beermen back in 2005.
“I think this game (with Phoenix) gave us a lift mentally, and maybe a little momentum going into our next game. So, we’ll go out there and see what we can do,” said Gin Kings’ coach Tim Cone of their quarterfinal stint.
Aguilar is down with an MCL injury, while Thompson is completing health and safety protocols before he is allowed to rejoin the team.
Because of their absences, the Gin Kings could once again count on the services of Prince Caperal, who proved himself when he delivered 19 points against the Fuel Masters.
Cone said he let Caperal play as a starter to let him get a feel of his role with the squad.
“We needed a way to get his confidence going. So, we made adjustments offensively,” said Cone.
The top-seeded Bolts (10-1) could end the Gin Kings quickly, needing just a win to advance. They also have a four-winning streak on their side, highlighted by their 104-101 win over the NLEX Road Warriors and 103-85 victory over the Alaska Aces.
The Tropang Giga also crushed the Gin Kings, 88-67, in the elimination round.
And coach Chot Reyes believes their “win-once” bonus will be a waste and for nothing if his wards can’t pull off the victory.