San Miguel Beer barely stole Game Two then yielded the next game. And the Beermen are well aware how dangerous the Barangay Ginebra Kings can be if they're completely back in the series.
They finally pulled one over the reigning three-time all-Filipino champs even on the continued absence of Greg Slaughter.
"Game Four is so crucial and we have to get it," said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria ahead of the critical fourth game in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semi-final playoff at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Thursday.
Either SMB gets into the threshold of the finals or Ginebra sends the series back to scratch at the end of the match with tip-off set at 7 p.m.
The series is getting hot, with San Miguel Beer ace forward Arwind Santos unleashing an intriguing statement after Game Three that caused him a hefty fine of P20,000 from the Commissioner's Office. He also incurred a separate fine of P5,000 for a flagrant infraction committed in the same game.
The Gin Kings emerged triumphant, 95-87, with a great resolve spawning remarkable exploits from a lot of individuals led by Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Prince Caperal.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone, however, insists they remain the underdogs.
"We won a game, but they still have a decided edge in the series. We also know that what we did in Game Three won't be enough to win Game Four," said Cone. "We'll have to continue to lift the level of our game if we hope to even the series."
He mentioned their big game in Game Two that wasn't enough to net them a "W."
"We just have to play an A++ game to have a chance to beat them. And they come out and seem like they're playing their B++, and they're able to steal or beat us. It's just amazing how good they are," said Cone.
"We have to play perfect to beat them," he added.
There's still no certainty as to when they would finally welcome back 7-foot-1 center Greg Slaughter.
"His status has not changed. He's day to day and will be a game time decision for Game Four," said Cone.
Chris Ross sat out the second half of Game Three due to a strained thigh, but he's expected to be back in Game Four.
"I'll be ready, I'll be a warrior," said Ross.
With Ross out, Tenorio got into the groove and emerged among the Kings' big heroes in their Game Three triumph.
Tenorio said that win provided them little relief.
"We really have to be aggressive the whole game. We can't be passive against this team. We have to contain their guards, of course June Mar and even their bench. That's why they're the best team in the league," said Tenorio. (SB)