TITLEHOLDER Barangay Ginebra and preseason gold standard Magnolia clash Sunday in what is easily one of the much-awaited tiffs in PBA Season 48 Commissioner's Cup.
Coach Tim Cone said they have a tough job at hand, especially as they're still in the process of building a foundation of things with Bishop and their new recruits.
The Kings and new import Tony Bishop hurdled their first test in the Converge FiberXers, 100-86, with relative ease, but now comes a big, big challenge in the red-hot Magnolia squad in their 6:15 p.m. face-off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots went perfect in the preseason On Tour series and have stretched their scorching streak in the season proper, taking the early league leadership with rousing wins over the TNT Tropang Giga (110-102), the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters (107-92) and the NorthPort Batang Pier (112-74).
And they trampled the Tropang Giga, the Fuel Masters and the Batang Pier even with Calvin Abueva not in action as he's smarting from an injury.
Coach Chito Victolero's troops are on a roll with import Tyler Bey leading the way along with the team's ever-dependable combo guards in Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon.
Then add the absence of Jeremiah Gray, Aljon Mariano and Jared Dillinger.
Nonetheless, the Hotshots are bracing for fierce battle with the Gin Kings, especially with the solid game Bishop and his teammates showed in their 14-point conquest of the FiberXers.
Bishop, a Panamanian stud who was with Meralco in a previous PBA tour of duty, collected 34 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in a sterling all-around game to mark his debut as a Ginebra import.
Along the way, he played well with Christian Standhardinger, Scottie Thompson and Ginebra free agent recruit Maverick Ahanmisi.
Then there's the expected presence of the Ginebra faithfuls to rally behind the Kings in this Sunday special. It could well be a humdinger of a match-up. (SB)