PBA: San Miguel and Ginebra, TNT and Meralco open respective semifinal series

CJ Perez (with ball) is playing like an MVP, according to Tim Cone, whose Gin Kings will be trying to take down the mighty Beermen. –PBA IMAGES

Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone is impressed with the collection of talent San Miguel Beer has at its disposal when their Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup semifinal duel starts on Friday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

“There’s so many guys on that team that you have to account for,” said Cone, before turning his attention on one player that could pose as the biggest problem for the Gin Kings in their best-of-five affair.

“Obviously, CJ Perez is playing MVP (most valuable player) basketball. Nobody’s been able to stop him from getting to the basket and he’s got a good balance,” Cone added.

Perez has been terrific for the Beermen in the season-ending conference, averaging 21.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals and is right behind Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger in the race for the Best Player of the Conference award.

His activity on both ends is seen as the latest hurdle in the Gin Kings’ quest to win another Governors’ Cup championship.

Multiple threats

Cameron Clark San Miguel PBA

Cameron Clark. PBA IMAGES

But Cone knows that it’s not just Perez who will try and send the Beermen to another Finals appearance to cap off Season 47.

Even with June Mar Fajardo sidelined with an MCL injury, San Miguel is still loaded with import Cameron Clark, Vic Manuel, Mo Tautuaa, Simon Enciso, Jericho Cruz and Marcio Lassiter while Chris Ross, Rodney Brondial and Allyn Bulanadi can supply some quality minutes if called upon by coach Jorge Gallent.

“They have a lot of weapons out there,” Cone said. “We’re just going to have to try to figure out a way to contain some of them, especially the import, especially CJ, and they all contribute.

“They’re moving the ball much better than they had in the past, and I think that’s been one of the keys to their success offensively.”


Tim Cone Ginebra PBA

Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone during a timeout. PBA IMAGES

Motivating Ginebra seems to be the easy part at this point, especially after the team learned that LA Tenorio is battling Stage 3 colon cancer. It is not sure if Tenorio will come to try and help the Gin Kings in a leadership role, but Cone earlier said that it would be a big plus if his presence is on a regular basis.

Ginebra and San Miguel square off at 3 p.m. to kick start a pair of semis pairings pitting sister teams, which assures that rival conglomerates will dispute the title, the seventh time that this will happen in the last eight conferences.

The other matchup sees TNT and Meralco at 5:45 p.m. in a meeting to see which of Manny V. Pangilinan’s teams will progress to the championship round of the season-ending conference.

Meralco reached the Final Four after dispatching Magnolia in a hard-fought quarterfinal, setting up a battle between offense and defense.

“Something’s have to give,” said Bolts coach Norman Black, whose team has given up only 100.4 points up to this stage and will be tested against the Tropang Giga’s uptempo offense that has resulted in almost 120 points per contest.

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