Inasmuch as Magnolia Pambansang Manok had wanted to gain the pivotal 3-1 series lead, the Hotshots are comfortable in their current situation, accepting the fact that they're the series underdogs.
"In the first place, all we want is a chance. If there's a chance in the end, we'll try to grab it," said Magnolia ace guard Paul Lee ahead of Game Five of the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven championship series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.
They still like their chance even as the race-to-four-games series has turned to a war of attrition.
It has come down to a virtual best-of-three, and the two teams are expected to pour it all out in a bid to claim the 3-2 lead.
Game time is at 7 p.m.
But it is still seen as a defense-versus-offense battle.
The Beermen took their turn to impose themselves in Game Four, largely behind the dominant performance of June Mar Fajardo to pull off a series-tying 114-98 victory.
"Hindi talaga kami pwedeng makipagsabayan sa kanila sa opensa. It's a matter of defensive mindset na hindi namin nadala last time," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
"Mas binigyan nila ng maraming touches si June Mar. I think doon sila nag-focus sa opensa nila. Yung aming depensa, hindi ganon ka-aggressive. We need to adjust. We need to be more aggressive than San Miguel," Victolero pointed out.
Truly, the Beermen dumped the ball hard on Fajardo who responded in collecting 31 points and 14 rebounds on the same night he snared a sixth straight all-Filipino Best Player of the Conference award.
He bounced back strong from his 4-of-11 shooting in Game Three, making 13 of 14 in a remarkable clip this time.
But SMB coach Leo Austria also lauded his other guys, saying they squared up the series again on total team effort.
"It's a team effort, everybody was so focused, even the players on the bench were cheering as they knew the importance of this game. This was a turning point because had we lost, we'd be in trouble (1-3)," said Austria.
"This is the kind of game we're looking for from the team. From start to finish, they sustained the energy," Austria also said. (SB)