NOT knowing what to expect from themselves in their season debut, the Barangay Ginebra Kings got a big relief with a good effort leading to a 100-86 win over the Converge FiberXers Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"We did worry we're not as sharp as Converge as we're playing our first game while they had a couples of games under their belt. We didn't know what to expect of ourselves. They shot the ball well and we had a hard time keeping up with them. But we did find our legs and got to go," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
Tony Bishop played well in his first outing as a Ginebra import and Christian Standhardinger also came through with a sterling job as the Kings started their Commissioner's Cup title defense on a winning note.
Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar had solid contributions as the Kings managed to win even with just an eight-man crew in their season debut against the FiberXers whom they sent reeling to a third straight loss.
Bishop, a finalist in his first PBA stint with Meralco in the 2021 Governors Cup, led the Kings' decisive third-quarter breakaway and finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds on top of three assists, three steals and two blocks.
Standhardinger also had a hand in their third-quarter assault and wound up with 25 markers, 16 boards and five dole-outs while Thompson chipped in 13 points and six rebounds and Aguilar tossed in 11 markers and 10 boards.
Cone was limited to an eight-man rotation with Jamie Malonzo, Jared Dillinger, and Aljon Mariano nursing injuries.
Even then, the Kings engaged the FiberXers in a seesawing game in the first half and got to make a crucial separation in the third canto on a key run presided over by Bishop, Standhardinger and Thompson.
They opened an 80-67 lead on a 26-15 third-quarter tear and sustained the pace in the last period en route to the victorious start in the tourney they won over the Bay Area Dragons last year.
And it was a good win in preparation for their anticipated battle with the Magnolia Hotshots Sunday also at the Big Dome.
"It's a quick turnaround for us against a Magnolia team with its undefeated run," said Cone, adding they're facing the Hotshots while they're still exploring things with new recruit Maverick Ahanmisi and new import Bishop.
He's hopeful, though, that they have figured things outs by the playoffs.
Ahanmisi, a transferee from Converge, tallied seven points, six rebounds and two assists in his first game as a Gin King.
Meanwhile, Converge was led by Justin Arana with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists as import Tom Vodanovich was held to 13 points on 6-of-13 clip. (SB)
Ginebra 100 - Bishop 34, Standhardinger 25, Thompson 13, J.Aguilar 11, Pringle 8, Ahanmisi 7, Pinto 2, Pessumal 0, Cu 0, Gumaru 0.
Converge 86 - Arana 20, Vodanovich 13, Balanza 13, Zaldivar 9, Nieto 7, Melecio 7, Stockton 6, Winston 5, Caralipio 3, Racal 3, Wong 0, Fornilos 0, Maagdenberg 0, Tallo 0.
Quarters: 25-30, 54-52, 80-67, 100-86