Barangay Ginebra San Miguel goes for its best start under the tenure of coach Tim Cone as it faces Phoenix Super LPG on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
The undefeated Kings shoot for a fourth straight victory in the 6:45 p.m. match against a Fuel Masters side seeking to bounce back from Monday’s loss to the TNT Tropang Giga while also waiting for the PBA’s approval to lift the indefinite suspension of Calvin Abueva.
NLEX and NorthPort, carrying identical 0-3 slates, go at it in the 4 p.m. opener, their first meeting since a thrilling triple overtime game in last season’s Governors’ Cup quarterfinals won by the Batang Pier.
Ginebra pulled off victories over NLEX (102-92), Blackwater (103-99) and Meralco (105-91) to open the bubble and register only its second 3-0 start since Cone began calling the shots in the 2015-16 season.
But Cone believes Phoenix is one of the legitimate contenders inside the bubble, even though it blew a 14-point second quarter lead in a 110-91 loss to TNT Monday night.
“Outside of (TNT), they really look like the best team so we know we have a battle coming,” said Cone.
The game could see more progress in the form of Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio, who were key in Ginebra’s victory over Meralco.
Aguilar scored 20 points while Tenorio had six points and four assists before being placed back on the bench since he had come off an appendectomy prior to his entry in the bubble.
Their steady improvement is a good sign for the Kings, who are getting positive contributions from Stanley Pringle (15.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists), Prince Caperal (14.7 points on 63-percent shooting), Aljon Mariano (12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists), Jeff Chan (11.7 points on 62-percent shooting) and Scottie Thompson (11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.0 steals).
They’ll be up against the Fuel Masters who are led by Matthew Wright, who has been shooting well since the restart.
Wright is averaging 30.0 points to lead the league in scoring with a 50-percent clip from three-point country.
But Wright needs more offensive support from his teammates, something that lacked in the Fuel Masters’ loss to the Tropang Giga.