By: Camille Naredo
MANILA, Philippines — In the PBA Philippine Cup finals, the spotlight will surely be on the stars of both the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and the San Miguel Beermen.
Center June Mar Fajardo figures to receive the lion’s share of attention among the Beermen, while the slam-dunking, shot-blocking Japeth Aguilar will lead the highlights for Ginebra.
But for Chris Ross — the Finals MVP of last season’s All-Filipino championship series — the teams should also be on the lookout for the “other guys,” the unheralded players from the bench who can turn a game or even the entire series.
“It’s always about the other guys. In big games like these, in the finals, you always hear about the other guys,” he said on Wednesday. “So if we can get some good performances from the other guys, it will only help us out.”
“Our starters play heavy minutes, their starters play heavy minutes, but they have a good bench, and we also have a good bench,” Ross added.
“So we’re gonna need everyone on our bench, 1 through 15, to be ready to play. When their number is called, they gotta step up.”
During their semifinals series against TNT KaTropa, San Miguel went to their usual guys more often than not. When they booked their finals ticket with a 96-83 Game 7 win, their first five played more than 38 minutes; all but eight of their points came courtesy of their starters.
However, Ronald Tubid believes that will change in the finals.
“Kailangan naming pumukpok ng pumukpok. Yung mga starters namin, sabi nila kahit mapagod sila. Andito naman kaming second group, this time I think more ma-involve yung second group,” he said.
(We need to keep pressing on. Our starters, when they’re tired, the second group is here. I think we’ll be more involved this time.)
The Gin Kings are similarly hoping to get good performances from their bench players, especially as they acknowledge the strength of San Miguel’s roster.
“Good thing about us, nag-step up ‘yung bench namin. What I’m saying is, I have faith and I believe on my tammates, na mag-i-step up sila,” LA Tenorio said.
Source: ABS-CBN Sports