Ginebra wants Phoenix scalp

Still riding the crest of its huge win over erstwhile unbeaten Bay Area, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel resumes its campaign when it battles Phoenix Super LPG in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Kings and the Fuel Masters take centerstage starting 5:45 p.m. following the curtain-raiser between Blackwater and Terrafirma at 3 p.m.

After a slow start, the Kings had won back-to-back games, but their latest victory over the Dragos somehow gave them the momentum they needed against a red-hot Fuel Masters side that is coming off a morale-boosting 111-97 win over NLEX last week.

With both teams coming off inspiring victories, expect them to be in full force and go all-out to improve their standings and catch unbeaten leader Magnolia on top of the team standings.

Against the Dragons, two-time Best Import awardee Justin Brownlee led the onslaught, proving that he remains as the gold standard among reinforcements campaigning in this midseason conference.

Despite the presence of National Basketball Association veterans, Brownlee showed that he has what it takes to bring the Kings back to the title after torching the Dragons with 46 points, which is barely four points shy of his career-high output.

“I was just representing the league and the Philippines,” said Brownlee following his blistering performance against the Hong Kong-based squad that won their first nine matches in the country.
“They are a guest team. We are just trying to represent the league and try to play hard.”

Brownlee’s brilliant all-around game will be measured against the Fuel Masters defenders.

Phoenix, after all, is a team that is playing with a chip on its shoulder as reports surfaced that it is now for sale. With that, the Fuel Masters have to perform at a high level and make a good impression to overshadow whatever that is happening outside the basketball court.

Worrying on the things they can control is what head coach Topex Robinson and his troops have in mind and winning over a solid team like the Kings is something positive they could do in hopes of turning their fortunes around.

Lately, the Fuel Masters have been pinning their hopes on rookie Tyler Tio, who had a monster game against the Road Warriors.

Standing only 5-foot-10 but armed with a big fighting heart rarely seen from a newcomer, the former Ateneo de Manila University gunner set career-highs in two straight games for the Fuel Masters.

After tallying 21 points against the Dragons, Tio knocked in 26 markers, including five three-pointers, when the Fuel Masters ran roughshod over the Road Warriors.

Tio said the confidence that Robinson has been giving him empowers him to go all out and compete against the bigger, more seasoned players in the professional league.

“He (Robinson) has been giving me confidence since Day 1,” Tio said.

“Sometimes, all you need is confidence and opportunity. Coach Topex gave that and I just want to repay the trust he had given me.”

Also tipped to draw attention is the battle between the Dyip and the Bossing.

Blackwater, in fact, wants to avoid losing back-to-back games just to keep them on track for another playoff run.

Last conference, the Bossing were able to crack the playoffs after a mediocre showing the past three conferences, which saw them posting the all-time longest losing skid of 29 straight games.

Now they’re looking to replicate that success in the Commissioner’s Cup.

But the Dyip had a more pressing matter to deal with and that is to snap a long losing skid stretching 20 games.

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