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Ginebra, Meralco out to save campaigns

By John Bryan Ulanday

Months after their historic Governors' Cup finals series, Barangay Ginebra and Meralco meet again with their respective playoff chances on the line in a crucial Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup battle tonight at the Philippine Arena.
Game time is at 6:45 pm with the Gin Kings (5-4) eyeing to keep their mastery of the struggling Bolts (3-6), the team they beat last conference in an epic 7-game series witnessed by more than 54,000-strong crowd.
Before that, Blackwater (4-5) and NLEX (5-4) also battlle for playoff positions in the an equally vital first game at 4:30 pm.
With Ginebra's top two target proving to be a long shot at this point, the Gin Kings are instead setting their sights on a spot inside the top six.
Their huge 93-78 win over Talk 'N Text last Sunday gives them a bit of an upperhand in the airtight race but head coach Tim Cone still doesn't feel any safe at all.
"That win just gives us a little bit of leg up now but it's still delicate for us," he said.
"It's so tight in the standings right now. This is the time in the conference where everybody is scrambling for wins so we just gotta keep plugging away."
Ready to challenge the Gin Kings' bid are their familiar rivals in Bolts.
"They're struggling like we've been struggling this conference, but everybody knows how capable they are, and how well-coached they are," Cone said.
Meralco, on other hand, gave itself a glimmer of hope after a much-needed win over Phoenix on Wednesday, on which coach Norman Black aims to ride on in a crucial tussle with Cone and company.
"Obviously, there is still a possibility even with this win that we might still be out, but we still have a fighting chance and we will give it our best against Ginebra."
It would be a tall order for Meralco though, especially with key guys Jared Dillinger and Cliff Hodge joining Ranidel De Ocampo on sick bay.
LA Tenorio will quarterback Ginebra's attack alongside twin towers Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter, going up against the shorthanded Meralco led by Baser Amer, KG Canaleta and Chris Newsome.

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