Game Today
(MOA Arena)
5:45 p.m. — Bay Area vs Barangay Ginebra
* Ginebra leads series, 2-1

THIS is probably the best time for Barangay Ginebra to get its uber-tough PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals rival Bay Area in a 3-1 chokehold.

The Gin Kings are on a high after pulling off that 89-82 go-ahead victory in spectacular never-say-die fashion on Wednesday’s Game 3 and can still feel the fire burning heading into today’s fourth match at the MOA Arena.

Such an end result in a seemingly won game can be deflating to the morale of the youth-laden Dragons, who have a short turnaround time to recover both mentally and physically and make course corrections.

Worse, the Hong Kong team’s most prolific player, import Andrew Nicholson, went down with a left ankle injury after an awkward landing on Jamie Malonzo’s foot in a rebound play in the last 31 seconds of that setback.

Mr. Nicholson was diagnosed with a sprain and will play through it but won’t be 100 percent as Bay Area attempts a 2-2 tie at 5:45 p.m.

It will be interesting to see how fired-up the Dragons will be after frustrations in Game 3 led to social media rants against officiating and hefty fines slapped on Hayden Blankley and Myles Powell.

Mr. Blankley tossed the word “cooking” while Mr. Powell slammed the free throw disparity (10 Bay Area foul shots against Ginebra’s 38) following the loss. Accompanied by team officials, the duo explained their side yesterday and apologized to Commissioner Willie Marcial, who accepted but levied a fine of P75,000 to Mr. Blankley and P100,000 to Mr. Powell.

Amid the Bay Area troubles, Gin Kings coach Tim Cone is bracing for a furious fightback, especially given the series’ back-and-forth trend. Ginebra took the opener, 96-91, then Bay Area countered with a 99-82 romp before the Gin Kings rallied from 14 points down to win the third.

“It was our turn in Game 3 now it’s their turn to respond in Game 4. That’s how most series go. It’s like a ping-pong, back-and-forth. If you can get two games in a row, that’s huge and that mostly wins a series. Well, not all the time, but mostly,” he said.

“Hopefully, we steel ourselves and take on their onslaught on Friday and see if we can get back-to-back wins which we need to win the series,” he added.

Dragons counterpart Mr. Goorjian had little to say after the third-game setback.

“I might say something that you guys don’t want to hear,” a disappointed Mr. Goorjian said.  “The game? It’s for everyone to see.”

Notes: The league fetes the top-performing local and import of the mid-season conference today right before Game 4. Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson looms as a hot candidate for Best Player of the Conference with NorthPort’s Robert Bolick, San Miguel’s CJ Perez, teammate Jamie Malonzo and NLEX’ Don Trollano as chief rivals. Justin Brownlee is vying for his third Best Import award against Magnolia’s Nick Rakocevic and SMB’s Devon Scott. — Olmin Leyba