Not 48 hours after finishing off their respective grueling semifinals series, Barangay Ginebra and TNT Tropang Giga return to the court for the PBA’s biggest prize.
The top two clubs of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup begin their best-of-7 finals on Sunday, looking to again hold the league’s most coveted trophy.
Tipoff is at 6 p.m. at AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City, Pampanga.
TNT hasn’t won the All-Filipino championship since 2012, while Ginebra’s drought extends further back to 2006.
Ginebra, the top seed at the end of the elimination round, advanced to the title series thanks to Scottie Thompson, whose corner 3-pointer with nearly no time left on the game clock finished off Meralco on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Tropang Giga, as they’ve done during the semifinals, got behind another masterful overall performance by Ray Parks Jr. to eliminate Phoenix Super LPG.
TNT second-year coach Bong Ravena is in his second PBA finals as the club’s shot caller.
That resume pales in comparison to his legendary Ginebra counterpart, Tim Cone, who is eyeing a 23rd league championship.
“Playing against Ginebra is tough,” Ravena said.
“They have a coach who’s very experienced, especially in the finals. We were outplayed by them in the elims. We will do our best to play well.”
In their only meeting in the preliminary round, Stanley Pringle scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Ginebra to an 85-79 win that keyed the squad clinching the top seed.
In that loss, TNT missed all but 5 of its 3-point attempts.
Tropang Giga have relied a lot on their gunners, featuring Parks, Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Simon Enciso and Troy Rosario. At the post, they will bank on JP Erram.
Ginebra boasts a veteran squad composed of Pringle, LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar, but Cone has youth at his disposal, too, with Thompson, Prince Caperal, Aljon Mariano and rookie Arvin Tolentino.
In Cone’s mind, TNT, which has coaching consultant Mark Dickel helping on the sidelines, is favored to go all the way.
“I think we’re the slight underdogs as they’ve been playing pretty well,” Cone said.
“They’re well coached and they’ve got Jayson (Castro) who is the difference maker.”