Barangay Ginebra versus Meralco, the fourth installment to the PBA Governors Cup in the past five years, has essentially the same plot: The Gin Kings are once again seen as the overwhelming favorites.
However, Meralco coach Norman Black remains steadfast in his belief that – at some point, and he certainly wants it to be – his Bolts can finally rise and turn. this unrequited love affair into something more compelling than a vehicle for Tim Cone and the awesomeness of the popular franchise.
“I like my chance this time, yeah,” he told reporters last Friday night, shortly after finishing mighty Magnolia in a semi-final that led to a decisive Game 5.
Meralco finished badly in the Governors Cup Finals match against Barangay Ginebra, but Wednesday’s mid-fourth at the iconic Smart Araneta Coliseum is shaping up to be different from the three previous editions.
“It’s going to be fun again,” Black said.
Meralco will be embarking on a completely different team action than it was in 2016. It has produced a number of notable signings since, from Allein Maliksi, a sweet forward who won the title with Cone , to Raymond Almazan, a quick and defensive big player. the man Black had longed for.
This season, the Bolts also brought in the prominent Panamanian Tony Bishop Jr in place of Allen Durham, and subsequently kicked Chris Banchero out of free agency. Black, throughout this tournament, has been vocal about how important the two will be to the franchise’s breakout.
Important new parts
Bishop helped Meralco unlock another dimension to his game by shooting his beautiful gun. Banchero, on the other hand, not only provides extra firepower, but also gives Black stability in the late game while making Bolt rotation less rigid.
Along with the core of Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan and Anjo Caram – all of whom have toiled for so many years in vain at the hands of arch-enemies – Meralco certainly looks fierce.
However, it is worth noting that Ginebra has also evolved over time. It was traded for the janitor Stanley Pringle (despite appearing in the series), the Christian Standhardinger doing it all, and then the tireless Sidney Onwubere. The club also picked free agent Nard Pinto afterwards.
And much of the favor Ginebra won over the series stems from the seasoned cores of LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Joe Devance, Jeff Chan, and of course, the tireless Justin Brownlee.
“I think Meralco will be extremely motivated, I imagine, to play with us for the fourth time,” Cone said.
The most competitive series of matches the two clubs have played returned in 2017 when the race had gone seven-game long.
But that just seemed like a succinct footnote for Black, who not only aims to eventually win the title against his venerable two-time Grand Slam champion.
“I think a lot of people see this as a very competitive rivalry when we meet in the Finals, but they (the Kings) have beaten us once,” said.
“It won’t really be a miracle until we beat them. And that will be the goal this time,” he continued. INQ
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