Mar 12, 2018

San Miguel braces for Ginebra surprise

After barely stealing Game Two, the San Miguel Beermen brace for an even tougher test versus the Barangay Ginebra Kings in Game Three of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Tuesday.

"Malamang na may mas malaking pambulaga sila sa Game Three at kailangan namin paghandaan 'yan," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

But the series could well be all over if the Beermen would be able to make it three in a row following their 102-90 triumph in the series opener then a 104-102 cliffhanger of a win in overtime in Game Two.

The Kings went a heartbeat away from forging a 1-1 tie in the series only to blow their chances in regulation play and in overtime Sunday night at the Big Dome.

Coach Tim Cone and his troops, thus, face a virtual do-or-die situation in their 7 p.m. tiff with the Beermen Tuesday.

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For the record, San Miguel totes a 9-2 mark in best-of-seven series when they enjoyed a 2-0 lead. Ginebra, meanwhile, is 2-6 in race-to-four-games affairs where it went down 0-2.

It would be remembered, though, that the Kings fell in a 0-2 hole before rallying and beating out the Star Hotshots (now Magnolia) in their 2017 all-Filipino semis.

Austria is hopeful they would get tremendous boost and energy from their stirring come-from-behind victory in Game Two.

"Ang laki ng kaibahan ng 1-1 at 2-0. Big morale boost sa amin 'yon," said Austria.

For the Kings, again the question is whether Greg Slaughter can finally come out and play his role as an equalizer to June Mar Fajardo.

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The San Miguel giant had his giant numbers Sunday night with 33 points and 19 rebounds in 49 minutes of action.

"I have to apologize to my core players they played extended minutes. But it's really an important game and they can have their rest in practice," said Austria.

Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter also saw action for over 40 minutes while Chris Ross played 39 minutes and 22 seconds.

And Austria deflected all the credit in their Game Two win to his main men.

"It's their pride and experience. Sanay talaga sila sa ganitong sitwasyon," said Austria.

Fajardo, Santos and Lassiter played superbly in the clutch and thus disappointed the Kings and their diehards, and spoiled Prince Caperal's 26-point breakout performance.

Nonetheless, Santos said Ginebra would still be a dangerous opponent, and they have to play them with a lot of caution. (SB)