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Gin Kings underdogs to Beermen



By John Bryan Ulanday

Reigning champion San Miguel Beer and crowd darling Barangay Ginebra show up tonight to figure in a sibling rivalry in Game One of their anticipated Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven semi-final series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Action fires off at 7 pm with the Beermen, gunning for a fourth straight All-Filipino title, looking to assert its mastery of the Gin Kings in this import-less conference.
The Beermen manhandled the Gin Kings, 4-1 in last year's Philippine Cup Finals to claim a third straight title.
Enjoying a twice-to-beat incentive as the top seed in the qurterfinals, San Miguel Beer finished off Talk N' Text in just one game while Ginebra swept Rain or Shine in their best-of-three series to set-up this epic semis clash.
"Now, we face the monster. That’s San Miguel. You can refer that to San Miguel or you can refer that to June Mar Fajardo," claimed head coach Tim Cone after towing the Gin Kings to their second straight All Filipino semis appearance under his watch.
Ginebra is coming into this series as the heavy underdog, especially against a team like SMB which has not been denied by any team in the past three Philippine Cup editions.
"They won three championships in a row in this conference for a reason. We know how good they are. We’re gonna have a hard time but we’re hoping for a heck of a series," Cone said.
However, in order to go nip-and-tuck against SMB, Cone admits needing his big man Greg Slaughter, who remains questionable at least for Game One.
"Our big question mark obviously is whether Greg is gonna play. That’s the big thing for us, whether Greg can play. That would really help us equalize San Miguel. He’d be the great equalizer," Cone said.
Slaughter is currently nursing a sprained ankle but is expected to return some time in the long and gruelling semis seven-game series.


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