By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
SLICED their series deficit into half, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings shoot for the equalizer against the defending champions San Miguel Beermen in Game Four today of their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup semifinal affair at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Needing to win last time around to stave off being pushed to the brink of elimination, the Kings did exactly that, notching a hard-earned 95-87 victory in Game Three on Tuesday night to narrow down their series deficit in their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) semifinal series, 2-1.
Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio led the way for Barangay Ginebra in its win last time around, that saw the team taking control of the match for much of the time only to be challenged in the end and needing to hang on tight to come out triumphant.
Mr. Aguilar finished with a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds with Mr. Tenorio adding 18 points. They were later named co-player of the game winners.
Journeyman Prince Caperal, meanwhile, sustained his impressive showing of late, scoring 12 points to somehow cushion the team in the continued absence of currently injured big man Greg Slaughter.
Jervy Cruz also had 12 while Joe Devance finished with 11 points.
“It was a grind-out game and key stops and hustle plays in the end made a difference for us,” said Mr. Aguilar of their hard-earned win.
WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE
While they are happy to have been able to hack out a win and infused further life back to their cause, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone is cognizant that they are not out of the woods yet and more work needs to be done if they are to survive the series and advance to the next round
“I have to give credit to our guys. A lesser character team could have not responded the same way they did coming from a painful loss. It’s hard,” said Mr. Cone in the postgame press conference.
“We’re happy but we’re not satisfied. We’re hoping we can continue to play an A plus, plus game for the rest of the series,” he added.
As for the status of Mr. Slaughter, who has missed their recent games because of ankle injury, Mr. Cone said he still does not know when his big man will be back but nonetheless said the player is working hard in his rehab to be able to come back soon and contribute.
On the part of San Miguel, which played without starting point guard Chris Ross in the second half of Game Three because of right thigh strain, it hopes to bounce back and complete what was not able to do last time around.
June Mar Fajardo led San Miguel in Game Three with 23 points and 16 boards.
Marcio Lassiter, who was the game hero in the second game, had 14 points before fouling out while Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot each had 13 markers.