Tim Cone expects Blackwater to be a motivated bunch when the Barangay Ginebra Kings collide with the Elite in the main game of the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Although wingman Chris Ellis won’t be able to play against his former team, just a few days after being traded to Blackwater, along with big man Dave Marcelo, Cone expects an Elite that is fired up due to the presence of do-it-all import Henry Walker.
“Blackwater is on a roll because they have won 4 of their last 5 games,” Cone said a matter-of-factly, heading to their 7 p.m. match.
The Elite are coming off a 118-97 mangling of the KIA Picanto last week in a game that saw them lean on a solid start to score their most points in a quarter (40) and in a half (70) in franchise history, while erecting their biggest lead of 46 points on the way to the lopsided win.
And Cone knows everything begins from Walker, now in his third tour of duty in the PBA.
“Blackwater is playing great basketball, and we know that Henry Walker has been awesome this conference. He has been inspiring Blackwater,” added the American coach, whose team will enhance their chances of top 4 finish with another win.
The 6-4 Ellis has been ruled out of the game since he only got discharged from Delos Santos Medical Center after being confined the past 4 days due to severe dehydration.
But Marcelo will surely be motivated to play against his former team, while providing the extra solid body at front court as he tries to contain either Greg Slaughter or Japeth Aguilar at the post.
“It’s always a motivation and I don’t care if we play them (Ellis and Marcelo) a year from now, but playing against us is really a motivation. We know the kind of character Chris and Dave have, they are both fighters,” noted Cone, who acquired Art Dela Cruz and Raymund Aguilar from the trade last week.
For Blackwater coach Leo Isaac, he knows facing a Ginebra side that has won its last 6 games won’t be easy.
But he’s also happy to see that the Elite have some kind of momentum going their way after winning 4 of their last 5 games to galvanize their playoff chances this conference.
“Kahit paano medyo mataas ang kumpiyansa ng team since nanalo kami ng apat sa limang laro namin,” said Isaac.
Walker will be leading the way once more, having been the biggest inspiration for the 3-year-old franchise as he churns out averages of 30.8 points, 18.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists in his 5-game stint with the Elite.
Other than that, Isaac is happy to see the locals led by big man JP Erram and guards Mike DiGregorio, Roi Sumang and gunner Bambam Gamalinda chip in on both ends of the floor, giving them the depth they needed in matching up with the Kings.
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