By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE BEST-OF-FIVE Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup semifinal series between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok hits Game Four today with the protagonists, coming from different directions, looking to see their respective thrusts through.
The defending champions Kings are out to level the series at two games apiece in their 7 p.m. match at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City after breaking through the win column in the series with a 107-103 Game Three victory on Wednesday while the Hotshots try to go for the closeout anew to make their way to the finals of the season-ending PBA tournament.
With its back against the wall, Barangay Ginebra dug very deep in Game Three to survive and extend the series.
They did so by bucking a rough in quarter number two and stepping up in the second half before hanging tough in the end.
With the count knotted at 103-all, Kings guard LA Tenorio gave his team the lead, 105-103, with a basket with 14 seconds left in the match, enough of a hole in turned out to bury the Hotshots.
Barangay Ginebra was led by import Justin Brownlee in the win with 46 points, 19 rebounds and five assists.
Scottie Thompson had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Mr. Tenorio finished with 14 points.
For Magnolia it was Mark Barroca who showed the way with 19 points followed by Paul Lee with 17 and Ian Sangalang 16.
Magnolia import Romeo Travis only had 12 points to go along with 10 boards.
Knowing they dodged a bullet last time around, Kings coach Tim Cone could not help but heave a sigh of relief while giving credit to his players for never giving up.
“It certainly looked bleak at halftime. We weren’t really playing well; too anxious to get it done individually. We certainly didn’t invent the NSD (never-say-die spirit). It had already been done a long time ago by Sonny Jaworski and those great group of guys but we are proud to represent the NSD,” said Mr. Cone in the postgame press conference following their win.
“It didn’t look like that [that we could come back] at halftime but somehow we did and gotta give the players an incredible amount of credit,” he added.
But the champion coach was quick to point out that they are not about done and looking to win it all.
“We’re happy to be alive and kicking but we’re not here to just win one game. We have to keep moving forward,” Mr. Cone said.
For the Hotshots, losing what potentially was the series closeout was unfortunate but they are not completely being down on themselves, believing they are still in a good position to succeed.
“We need to go through the eye of the needle, so to speak. We knew from the start that this is not an easy series with Ginebra. We had our chance earlier but I guess it’s for Ginebra and it deserved it because they played well,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who failed to finish Game Three after being thrown out of the court for making contact with a game official.
He said that there is no sense in dwelling much on what was already done and that they would try to move on and focus on the next game.
“It’s time to move on and focus our attention on Game Four. We are viewing it as another do-or-die match. Mentally we have to be ready. It is very important,” Mr. Victolero said.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo