Top seed Barangay Ginebra continues its quest for a third-straight PBA Governors' Cup title when it faces the No.8 seed NLEX Road Warriors on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings secured the top seed in the playoffs after trampling TNT, 112-93, Sunday night, knocking the KaTropa out of the running in the process. Ginebra at 9-2 topped the elimination round.
"I think we all coaches we try to avoid certain coaches we want to play in the playoffs. And certainly, Yeng Guiao is one of those coaches you want to avoid in the playoffs," Ginebra's Tim Cone said. "You know you would be in a tough battle with coach Yeng."
The Road Warriors closed out the elimination round with a 107-101 loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Saturday.
But with the team needing to beat Ginebra twice to make the Final Four, NLEX can't afford mistakes.
Import Aaron Fuller will be standing at the forefront of NLEX's bid to force a knockout match against Ginebra. The 28-year-old Fuller has been doing it all for NLEX and averages of 31.8 points, 17.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists since taking over from injured import Olu Ashaolu.
Veterans Larry Fonacier, JR Quinahan, Ken Ighalo, Mac Tallo, and Mike Miranda have led NLEX.
Ginebra plastered NLEX, 106-92, during their only elimination-round meting. Cone isn't dwelling on that.
Ginebra is back to full strength with Greg Slaughter, Sol Mercado, and Art dela Cruz getting a good warm-up game last Sunday against TNT.
"It's important for us to get more minutes and more time and play hard with Greg in the lineup and also Sol, and also we started with Art in the lineup," Cone said. "I felt they needed that game and I felt we needed that game with them."
Justin Brownlee has been largely responsible for Ginebra's success the last three seasons in the import-spiced conference. Aside from leading the Kings to back-to-back Governors' Cup titles, the former St. John standout also led Ginebra to the 2018 Commissioner's Cup crown, while being named Best Import.
The 6-foot-4 Brownlee is averaging 31.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 6.9 assists this conference.