Barangay Ginebra's Justin Brownlee shoots a jumper over TNT KaTropa | PBA Images

It's size vs speed as Gin Kings, KaTropa begin semis showdown
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2017 - 9:30am

MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion Barangay Ginebra and TNT KaTropa start their side of the PBA Governors Cup Final Four showdown Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum – a playoff matchup between size versus speed.

Coach Nash Racela is wary on how to neutralize Ginebra big men Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance while coach Tim Cone is concerned how to match up with the quickness and firepower of TNT’s guards and wing threats.

“It could be a classic series,” said Cone ahead of the best-of-five semifinal playoff that fires off at 7 p.m. tonight at the Big Dome.

The two teams finished with identical 8-3 win-loss record in the elims, but the Texters claimed playoff higher seeding on the winner-over-the-other rule. The Texters fired on all cylinders and crushed the Gin Kings, 121-92, in their elims matchup on Sept. 23.

Even then, TNT coach Nash Racela said the Kings should be the favorite because of their huge, explosive lineup.

“We expect an even harder series playing against Ginebra. I personally saw their last game against San Miguel. They dominated San Miguel. And we all know their strength aside from their height and size, it’s the coaches that they have,” said Racela, expressing a lot of respect on Cone, twice grand slam-winning coach.

One thing that gives Racela hope is the fact that the Texters have been playing through struggles all tournament long and they survive.

“It’s gonna be a tough series for us, but we’re gonna go in, grind it out and look to win,” said TNT import Glenn Rice Jr.

After the blowout loss to the Texters, the Kings have recovered and will ride the momentum of 104-84 rout of the San Miguel Beermen in the quarters.

The Texters, meanwhile, went through two tough games versus the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to make the semis.

“A lot of things have been happening in our team the last couples of weeks. But we always believe we belong to the semis. Hopefully, we’ll advance to the next level,” said Racela.

Cone also sees a tough grind.

“TNT handles us with ease the last time they played us. They totally outplayed and outran us. We’ll need to find some ways to slow them down. No doubt, they are a tough matchup for us,” said Cone.

The TNT gunners dealt the Kings tremendous beating in their elims face-off.

Rice and Jason Castro rifled in six triples each and their teammates added five treys as the Texters badly beat the Gin Kings from the second quarter onwards.

Rice finished with a game-high 36 points, Castro ended up with a total of 28 while Troy Rosario and Kelly Williams both collected double-double numbers, with the former putting in 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the latter adding 10 markers and 11 boards.

RR Pogoy was a fifth TNT player to finish in double figures with 15.

The Kings, meanwhile, made only six of 23 three-point tries, and they also drew paltry numbers from inside operators Slaughter and Devance.

The Texters built momentum late in the second quarter and pulled away on a series of runs in the second half.

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