It’s kinda weird because usually, a game pitting Barangay Ginebra and Purefoods (now Star Hotshots) happen either in the middle or towards the tailend of the eliminations in a PBA conference.
But on Sunday, Ginebra will be facing Star as the team, now under Tim Cone, face the Hotshots in the main game before an expected sellout crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
I grew up as a fan of Great Taste/Presto when Ricky Brown and later on, Allan Caidic starred for the Gokongwei-owned franchise.
However, every time Ginebra and Purefoods clash in a regular PBA game or playoffs, it’s like seeing two fighting cocks clash ferociously, oblivious of the crowd in a jampacked venue.
And that’s what I expect when Ginebra and Star face off for the first time in the PBA’s 41st season.
Marc Pingris calls Cone his “daddy”, but once the game starts, expect the long-time defensive wizard of the Hotshots to go hard in every play–whether that’s banging bodies with Ginebra’s “Twin Towers” Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, going for a rebound or setting a hard pick to make sure James Yap gets a good look for a pull-up jumper.
- I expect Mark Barroca, Justin Melton and Alex Mallari to dive for loose ball, pressure Ginebra’s array of guards like LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, Jayjay Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa and first-round rookie draftee Scottie Thompson.
- Similarly, Slaughter and Aguilar won’t give an inch against their counterparts. Both Ginebra “bigs –who are set to assume bigger roles for the team under Cone’s “triangle”, will be menacing on defense and active at every ball possession.
- You’ll surely hear Cone yell, challenge his players during timeout and argue with referee if he feels the call is questionable.
- Fans will inundate social media platform with messages of support to their favorite teams and favorite players.
- And we’ll hear the usual cheers and jeers before, during and after the game.
In short, expect a playoff atmosphere right in the first week of the brand new season.
Win or lose, this experience will greatly help Star’s first-year coach Jason Webb as he tries to gain the experience needed and hopefully, follow in the footsteps of Cone.