By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WITH their best-of-five Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup semifinal series knotted at a game apiece, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Northport Batang Pier go for the pivotal 2-1 lead in Game Three today at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Forced after the Kings bounced back in Game Two with a 113-88 victory, the teams now try to go over the other to push themselves to a win away from moving to the Big Dance of the season-ending PBA tournament.
After coming out flat in the series opener on Dec. 14 that had it losing, 124-90, Barangay Ginebra made sure there would be no repeat of such, taking control of the second game right from the get-go and not allowing Northport to really get its game going.
Six players scored in double digits for the Kings in the rout, led by Stanley Pringle with 23 points.
LA Tenorio had 20 points and Greg Slaughter 16 while import Justin Brownlee had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Scottie Thompson had 13 markers while Jeff Chan came off the bench to score 12.
The Kings were firing from all cyclinders from the start, scoring no less than 31 points in each of the first three quarters of Game Two.
They complemented it with solid defense that had them limiting the explosive Northport duo of import Michael Qualls and Christian Standhardinger to just 30 points combined on 34% shooting and 11 rebounds, down from their Game One output of 54 points on 42% clip and 30 boards.
Veteran Sean Anthony was steady for the Batang Pier, finishing with a double-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, but his effort was not enough to tow his team over the in-their-element Kings.
“I thought we came out with a lot of playoff intensity which we did not have in the first game. We had better execution this time and know more what we wanted to do,” said Kings coach Tim Cone after Game Two.
“We are happy with this win but we expect Northport to bounce back and they are capable of that. And let’s see what happens in the next game,” he added.
Recognizing that they started out bad in Game Two, Mr. Anthony reiterated that they have to do better lest they find themselves receiving another drubbing at the hands of the Kings.
“We just started badly in this game and we cannot come out like that. We have to have a better start next time,” said the Batang Pier forward.