NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger and Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar will be an interesting match-up in their series.
Kings, Batang Pier start F4 showdown
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After their triumphant stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the Southeast Asian Games, coach Tim Cone and four nationals from the Barangay Ginebra camp immediately go back to PBA business tonight as they eye first blood against fired-up NorthPort in the Governors Cup Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Cone, as well as LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter had barely four days to transition from the SEAG into their title hunt in the pro league but expressed confidence they would be up to it in the 6:30 opener against the Batang Pier, who had a good two weeks of breather since their Nov. 27 quarterfinal outing.

“For teams in the semis, it seems like a long time between games but for Ginebra, it seems like a really quick turnaround,” said Cone, who tasked assistant coach Olsen Racela to oversee the Gin Kings’ practices while he and the rest of the coaching staff on loan to Gilas were busy with the SEAG.

“Coach Olsen did a great job of keeping the guys sharp and ready during the SEA Games and those players who participated in the SEA Games are all pumped up to get the semis going. I think we’ll be alright in Game 1,” Cone said.

The Batang Pier have shown resilience and overcome adversity before reaching this stage.

In danger of missing the playoffs, coach Pido Jarencio’s charges dropped the axe on front-running NLEX, 102-94, and Ginebra, 98-96, back-to-back to salvage the No. 8 seeding in the quarterfinals.

They didn’t stop there. With Christian Standhardinger, Michael Qualls and Sean Anthony showing the way, the Batang Pier toppled top seed and twice-beat NLEX with a 115-90 win then a 126-123 triple overtime reversal for the right to face the Gin Kings, who advanced at the expense of grand slam-seeking San Miguel in the Last Eight.

“Four knockout games in the last four games, that’s a tough situation. But the players have the desire, hunger, composure and commitment to what we’re doing. They really want to win, so we overcome it. And we hope to sustain this in the semis against Ginebra,” said Jarencio.

NorthPort reached this stage despite missing Anthony due to an injury, trading Mo Tautuaa for Standhardinger and getting a new import in Qualls mid-tournament and losing ace rookie Robert Bolick to ACL injury.

“We went through a lot. And let’s face it, we weren’t really in the radar but we were just so competitive,” Jarencio added.

“We know NorthPort is coming in with a lot of confidence and momentum after knocking out the No. 1 seed (so we should be ready),” said Cone.

And then there’s Standhardinger, who got to know Cone’s system during their time in the SEA Games, helping in the scouting process.

“My guy Christian Standardinger is on the other side. Now he knows everything we do. He knows all our plays, all of our defense. But that’s the sacrifice we made,” Cone said, smiling.

Notes: Columbian Dyip have signed Fil-Am Roosevelt Adams to a maximum deal five days after picking him No. 1 in the Rookie Draft. Roosevelt will be committed to play for the Dyip for two years and is set to form a deadly combo with CJ Perez.

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