Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the Meralco Bolts have developed a rivalry over the years, even bringing their animosity in front of 50,000 fans at the Philippine Arena twice before.
This time, though, the two squads will add another chapter to their rivalry while playing inside an empty gym in Angeles City. Will the Barangay extend their win streak? Or, will Meralco get over .500 with a win?
Catch this game live on October 18 at 6:45 pm, Manila time.
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (2-0)
No disrespect to Greg Slaughter, but Ginebra is doing just fine without him. With Prince Caperal taking advantage of the void left by Slaughter and having what seems to be a breakout in this conference, the Baranggay have zoomed to a 2-0 start in the 2020 Philippine Cup
Caperal turned lots of heads in Ginebra’s 103-99 win over the Blackwater Elite last Thursday, as the big man from Arellano University led his team with 24 points on an efficient 9-of-14 shooting from the field, including five triples.
Caperal is even leading the Baranggay with 17.5 points per game on 68 FG%. That doesn’t sound good for Meralco, which was hurt by another stretch-five in their loss to the Phoenix Fuel Masters, as Justin Chua scored 17 points to go with three treys.
But of course, Caperal is hardly the only one that demands defensive focus from Ginebra opponents, as Aljon Mariano, Scottie Thompson, Jeff Chan, and Stanley Pringle are all capable scorers on their own.
The Meralco Bolts (1-1)
After losing to Phoenix (116-98) in their opener, the Bolts rebounded and got their first win of the conference by beating the Alaska Aces, 93-81, last Wednesday.
Baser Amer had 15 points, three assists, and three rebounds for the Bolts in the Alaska game, while ageless wonder Reynel Hugnatan scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 36 minutes, though, he’ll find to duplicate those numbers against Ginebra’s younger and beefier frontline.
That being said, Hugnatan seems to have found the fountain of youth in Angles City, as he’s averaging a team-leading 14.5 points across two games in the bubble.
Meralco is also benefiting from one of the best sixth-man in the league in Allein Maliksi, who’s come of the bench in the previous two contests. Maliksi is averaging 14.0 points on 56 FG% this conference and is a key reason why Meralco’s bench is second in the PBA with 50.5 points per game.
Meralco will enter Sunday’s game with fresher legs than the Barangay, as the Bolts have an extra day of rest.
Having a 41-year-old leading scorer is captivating and alarming at the same time for the Bolts, as it’s emblematic of a deeper problem on offense. Ginebra doesn’t seem to have that kind of issue. Ginebra, thanks to its steady frontcourt, will win this game, 97-87.