NorthPort braces for Ginebra fightback


    NORTHPORT dealt Ginebra a sound beating at the start of their PBA Governors Cup semis battle last Saturday.

    Coach Pido Jarencio leads those among the Batang Pier who believe they may have just awakened a sleeping giant, someone they should braced for in Game 2 of their best-of-five duel tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    “(Ginebra coach) Tim Cone… mag-a-adjust iyon. Kaya kailangan tingnan natin, panoorin ko tape ngayon, tingnan ko kung ano puwede nilang i-adjust. Kami naman, adjust rin,” Jarencio said moments after his side’s 124-90 victory in Game 1.

    Sol Mercado, one of three NorthPort players acquired from Ginebra last June, knows exactly what to expect from the team he spent almost five years with.

    “It’s going to be a totally different team on Monday for sure,” said Mercado. “I already know. I’ve been on that side. We’ve had games like this before where we got blown out and the next game, we were the ones who did the blow-out.

    “I expect them to be a totally different team. We have to try and keep our hunger and mindset on the defensive end.”

    Hunger and the fact it had all of 17 days to prepare for Ginebra were translated into a smooth game by NorthPort, which led by 16 points early and had more to dish out after getting threatened in the third period. The Batang Pier even led by as much as 122-85.

    “Tonight na-execute iyung gameplan, especially defensively,” said Jarencio. “I commend my coaching staff… siyempre tulong-tulong ito. Total team effort. Lahat nag-contribute, lahat doing their share.”

    The defeat takes on additional sting since it came just four days after Cone steered Gilas Pilipinas to the SEA Games gold and dampened what could have been a fitting tribute on his 62nd birthday.

    “It’s embarrassing,” said Cone when he was caught while trying to quietly make his way out of the Big Dome.

    “They wanted it more than we did and one of the worst first games I’ve been involved in.

    We’d better come back better. We didn’t prepare as well as we could have. They surprised us with the zone. We didn’t handle their zone well. They changed the defenses up. They did a really good job. They came in with a good gameplan.”

    The loss was the worst by Ginebra under Cone, close to the Kings’ 94-132 beatdown from San Miguel Beer in Game 3 of their 2018 Commissioner’s Cup finals series. Cone and his team got back and eventually won that duel and the title in six games.