MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra will be playing against an overhauled Meralco club when the PBA Commissioner’s Cup opens at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena in Laoag City on Friday.
According to PBA.ph, the Gin Kings will pit their intact line-up against a revamped Meralco team which acquired several players in a bid to bolster its chances in the import-backed conference.
The Bolts recently acquired Sol Mercado, Eric Rodriguez, Ren-Ren Ritualo, Reynel Hugnatan, Mark Isip and import Anthony Dandridge. They also welcomed the return of big man Marlou Aquino.
Ginebra, meanwhile, still have mainstays JC Intal, JJ Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa and Willie Miller. The Gin Kings also got import Nate Brumfield, who is fresh off a stint in the Mexican basketball league.
Ginebra coach Jong Uichico said they will be competing against an improved team.
“Mas lumakas nga sila dahil Isip and Aquino are not new to their system and should help out Hugnatan and (Asi) Taulava up front, while we all know how Mercado and Ritualo can be explosive,” said Uichico.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, however, said his new players will have to immediately adjust with their system especially in this tournament that only has a 9-game elimination round.
“It’s like starting from scratch all over again. We just have to fast-track the whole process of trying to assimilate our new players to our system and hope it’s enough,” said Gregorio, who led the Bolts to 5th place in the recent Philippine Cup.
“The target, really, is to win as many games as possible. Bawal kumurap dito. The upper six goes up, the bottom four says goodbye,” he stated.
The game will be at 5 p.m.
The Ginebra-Meralco match will be aired live by ABS-CBN’s Studio 23.