With the Southeast Asian Games already concluded, the semifinal round of the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association kicks off as the hostilities reach a new level.
Barangay Ginebra and NorthPort begin their hotly anticipated best-of-five semis tussle with Game 1 scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tomorrow night.
Still fresh from copping the gold medal for the Philippines in the 30th SEA Games, Tim Cone and his Ginebra wards LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter are now looking to lead the Gin Kings once again.
Cone acknowledges the threat that the Batang Pier presents.
“We got a significant time of rest as a team since our last game. We have to make sure we come out prepared and sharp,” said Cone. “NorthPort is no joke. We all saw what it did in the quarterfinals. It should be a tough battle.”
Cone’s core will go up against NorthPort’s formidable big three of Michael Qualls, Christian Standhardinger and Sean Anthony, who have shown that they can carry the fight for the Batang Pier.
The Gin Kings have a more comfortable route to the semis while, on the contrary, the Batang Pier dug deep and did it the hard way.
Taking advantage of its twice-to-beat incentive as the fourth seed in the quarterfinals, Ginebra slammed San Miguel right away, 100-97, to advance and also shatter the Beermen’s hopes for a coveted grand-slam.
On the other hand, NorthPort showed its grit by winning four knockout games in a row to make this far, despite being the lowest seeded team in the playoffs.
The Batang Pier won their last two games in the elimination round to crack the quarters before overcoming a twice-to-win disadvantage in the previous round by beating NLEX twice to take the last semis spot.
The last ticket to the semis was hard-earned as NorthPort endured a grueling triple-overtime encounter with the Road Warriors to take a classic 126-123 escape win in the deciding game of the last quarterfinals pairing.