Mar 13, 2018

Ginebra proves it can win without 'Gregzilla'

After dropping the first two games, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone saw no reason why they can't return the favor.

On Tuesday night, the Kings finally reigned over the San Miguel Beermen, largely behind the exploits of Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and young free agent recruit Prince Caperal.

Aguilar, Tenorio and Caperal led the way as the Kings sustained a brilliant job to repulse the Beermen, 95-87, and stay in the thick of the fight in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal playoff at the MOA Arena in Pasay City last night.

Joe Devance, Scottie Thompson, Sol Mercado and Jervy Cruz also provided push as Ginebra prevented San Miguel from putting the series away.

The Kings have a chance to equalize as the two teams slug it out again in Game FourThursday at the same venue.

"Napakalaking bagay nito because we can't be down 0-3 against the best team in the PBA which is San Miguel," said Tenorio, a key factor in their Game Three win with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone deflected all the credit to his players for playing a "character game."

"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 Cone on the Kings' turnaround effort after blowing away what had looked a won game Sunday.

"We're happy but we're not satisfied. Hopefully, we can continue to play an A plus, plus game," he also said.

Not lost on Cone was the exceptional back-to-back games of Caperal, who's proving to be a gem of a recruit for the team from the free agent pool.

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"He's got a high basketball IQ and he's using that. His last game was a revelation, and his game tonight is again a revelation," said Cone.

Piling up a career-best 26-point output the last time out, Caperal returned to collect 12 points, including 2-of-2 three-pointers, the last one he made when the Beermen had come to within three, 80-83, on a bristling 11-0 attack.

And with the Beermen still trying to wage a fight inside the final minute, Caperal tapped away from Fajardo a crucial SMB throw-in, and the Kings eventually sealed the important win.

The Kings played with a great resolve and a lot of firepower to take control nearly all throughout the game.

And they emerged triumphantly as they came through with the close-out effort that they weren't able to dish out in Game Two.

"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.

"Towards the end, we made key stops and hustle plays on the boards, enabling out to win this grind-out game," said Aguilar, delivering a double-double game with 25 markers and 12 boards.

The whole Ginebra team shot the ball well, hitting above 50 percent through the first three quarters.

The Beermen had to endure that. Worse, they were hit by an injury to Chris Ross, who played only 16 minutes in the first half and sat out the entire half.

Fajardo came through with his own double-double game with 23 points and 16 rebounds, but the Beermen struggled with a mere 35-percent shooting (31-87). (SB)

The scores:

BARANGAY GINEBRA 95 - Aguilar 25, Tenorio 18, Caperal 12, Cruz 12, Devance 11, Thompson 9, Mercado 8, Ferrer 0, Manuel 0.

SAN MIGUEL 87 - Fajardo 23, Lassiter 14, Santos 13, Cabagnot 13, Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Ross 6, Lanete 5, Heruela 3, Espinas 2, Mamaril 0, De Ocampo 0, Pessumal 0.

Quarters: 19-15, 45-39, 79-65, 95-87.