SMB faces lowly Ginebra

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SMB faces lowly Ginebra

By Waylon Galvez

Unbeaten San Miguel Beer welcomes the return of forward Marc Jean Pingris when it takes on struggling sister team Barangay Ginebra tonight in the Motolite-PBA Fiesta Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen, gunning for their sixth straight win, face the Kings (1-4) at 7:30 p.m. following the 5 p.m. encounter between Rain or Shine (4-1) and Burger King (4-2).

San Miguel Beer, owner of an all-time record 17 championships, is on track of matching its best start in franchise history a streak of eight wins during the 2004 Fiesta Cup (transition) with ex-NBA player Art Long as import.

Unfortunately, that team failed to win a championship, something the current SMB squad wants to accomplish since winning the regular Fiesta Cup title five seasons ago.

Pingris' return will further boost the Beermen.

"Well, wala pa siya sa 100 percent. Galing lang siya sa (ankle) injury and it would be unfair to put too much expectation on him. But of course he's always a welcome addition to our team," Tanquingcen said of Pingris who missed the team's first five games.

Still recovering from injuries are Danny Ildefonso (ankle), Lordy Tugade (knee), Danny Seigle (back) and Mike Cortez (ACL).

While San Miguel is coming off a 98-92 win against Sta. Lucia Realty last Thursday, Ginebra is nursing an 81-82 beating from Alaska – the Kings' fourth straight loss – last Friday.

"It's tough facing a team that is coming off a tough loss, lalo 0-4 sila going into the game," said Tanquingcen.

"We just have to stay focused, we don't want to let our guard down because alam mo naman sa PBA, isang talo baka magkadugtung-dugtong."

Ginebra coach Jong Uichico remains hopeful despite his team's poor showing so far.

"We'll just try to work with the players we have, and try to find ways to win," said Uichico.

The Kings are still hobbled by injuries to spitfire guard Mark Caguioa (knee) and veteran forward Junthy Valenzuela (knee).

SMB and Ginebra will continue to rely on their respective imports, Gabe Freeman and Rod Nealy.
Equally exciting is the match up between Rain or Shine and Burger King (formerly Air21).

While the Elasto Painters are fresh from a 110-90 win against the Purefoods Giants last Saturday, the team's third straight with new import Jai Lewis, the Titans are coming off two impressive wins, against Barako Bull (123-110) and Coca-Cola (127-109).

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