Spotless and winless

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Four teams are spotless and three are winless in the PBA GovernorsCup so far but three unbeaten clubs are in for an acid test in todays doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. On top of the standings are San Miguel Beer (4-0), Converge (4-0) and NLEX (4-0). Barangay Ginebra (1-0) is also unscathed and will try to catch up with the pacesetters as it has three assignments until Sunday. Still looking to break into the win column are Magnolia (0-3), Rain or Shine (0-4) and NorthPort (0-4).

Converge leads the league in offense with an average of 118.8 points and will stake its unblemished mark against TNT to open hostilities at three this afternoon. Then, NLEX and Ginebra will slug it out to preserve the zeroes in their loss records. The Road Warriors bid goodbye to sensational import Jonathon Simmons who left to accept a higher-paying offer in China and will unleash Wayne Selden to fill in. Selden, 28, is five years younger than Simmons and that may or may not be an advantage. Both saw action in four NBA seasons although Simmons suited up for three teams and Selden, four. Simmons earned $14.7 million during his NBA stint and Selden, $3.8 million. Among Seldens teammates were legends Vince Carter and Derrick Rose.

Ginebra got off to a hot start this conference to beat Rain or Shine, 116-108 last Sunday but the win didnt come easy as coach Tim Cones charges battled back from a nine-point deficit in the third period. Cone said he couldnt ask more from his team with only five days of practice. Nards Pinto came off the bench to spark Ginebras recoil and delivered 12 points on 5-of-7 from the field in 20 minutes. Jeremiah Gray started in the backcourt with Scottie Thompson in a test for the rookie. LA Tenorio played only 2:34 minutes in a relief role. Japeth Aguilar hit 18 points and Stanley Pringle, 15. As usual, Justin Brownlee was impeccable with a triple double – 29 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Ginebra will not have scouted Selden before todays contest so the element of surprise is on NLEXside.

Ginebra ranks No. 1 in field goal percentage (63.4 percent) but the downside is it is No. 1 in most turnovers (21.0) which is music to NLEX coach Frankie Lims ears because the Road Warriors are No. 1 in opponentsturnovers (19.5) and No. 2 in turnover points (22.3). Curiously, Ginebra is No. 1 in least fastbreak points allowed (6.0) while NLEX is No. 2 in transition points (18.3). How Selden fits in the equation will be an interesting twist particularly as hes matched up against the all-time import yardstick.

Converge was the first of any team to switch imports and coach Aldin Ayos decisiveness has paid off. Ethan Rusbatch was dispatched after a game even as Converge beat NorthPort, 122-92, in that outing. It was obvious the New Zealander wasnt in the caliber of other imports in town. His replacement Jamaal Franklin seems a perfect fit. In Converges last win over Rain or Shine, Franklin compiled a triple double – 25 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists. He played for Memphis and Denver in two NBA seasons. Former Memphis Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien dubbed Franklin “The Grindsontaking off from player Tony Allens nickname “The Grindfather.” Rain or Shine is likely to replace import Michael Qualls while NorthPort has brought in Kevin Murphy to take over from Marcus Weathers, Magnolia has enlisted Antonio Hester to bump off Eric McCree and Blackwater moved in Troy Williams for Shawn Glover.


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