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Kings upbeat; Texters motivated

PBA season opener

MANILA, Philippines — The Barangay Ginebra Kings feel good about themselves but are wary of a TNT KaTropa side that they expect to be well motivated and prepared as they clash in the opener of PBA Season 44 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan tonight.

Game time is at 6:30 p.m. after the Leo Awards where San Miguel Beer main man June Mar Fajardo is tipped to bag an unprecedented fifth MVP award.

The Kings and the Texters open league hostilities after elaborate awards rites and season inaugurals graced by a bevy of beauties serving as team muses, including Sharon Cuneta (Magnolia), Pia Wurtzbach (Ginebra), Alyssa Valdez (NLEX), Kylie Verzosa (SMB), Yam Concepcion (Phoenix), Sam Pinto (TNT KaTropa), Klea Pineda (Alaska), Aya Fernandez (NorthPort), Eva Patalinjug (Meralco), Kelley Day (Columbian Dyip), Anie Uson (Rain or Shine) and Jasmine Alkhaldi and Myla Pablo, both for Blackwater.

There are also a number of performers including Parokya ni Edgar.

The Kings and the Texters take the floor in the opening game of the all-Filipino tourney where San Miguel Beer and Ginebra set out as the top favorites with their solid lineups with ceiling, depth, quickness, experience and a lot more.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone is confident they can make a good run in the tourney even against the San Miguel squad that shoots for a record fifth Philippine Cup crown.

But Cone expresses concern versus the Texters in tonight’s game.

“We feel TNT is real motivated because they have something to prove. They let go of Terrence Romeo. I’m sure it was a tough management decision, and the players have got to prove moving Terrence is the right thing,” said Cone.

 “They’re gonna be motivated to prove that they can win and be better without him. That’s our anxiety about them. They’re gonna be great,” Cone added.

Meanwhile, one big reason they’re optimistic about a good run in the season is a healthy lineup.

For the first time in a while, Ginebra is starting the season with all its major players in harness.

“That’s the key, to be healthy. Generally, we’re healthy. Greg (Slaughter) is healthy, Japeth (Aguilar) is healthy and LA (Tenorio) who’s always healthy, is healthy. As long as those guys are healthy, we have enough to be good,” said Cone.

Out with health issues are Jeff Chan and Arthur dela Cruz.

With bigger health concern, though, is TNT, with starting big forward Troy Rosario nursing a badly shattered nose bridge. Also with an injury is second-string center Yousef Taha.

But Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy, Jericho Cruz and Kelly Williams will be there to lead the Texters’ bid.

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