Defending champion San Miguel Beer aims for the first finals seat when it tangles with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at 6:30 p.m. tonight in Game 5 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Should they win tonight, it will be the Beermen’s 39th overall finals appearance and fourth straight in the Philippine Cup.
“At 3-1, that’s still manageable. I cannot forget when I was still playing with Shell and we’re holding a 3-1 lead against Ginebra, but we lost in that series,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, referring to the 1991 first conference Game 7 match between Shell and Ginebra wherein Rudy Distrito scored the game-winning, buzzer-beating jump shot.
“And same thing, we were down by 0-3 in the finals against Alaska (during the 2016 Philippine Cup) and we still won the series at 4-3. So we cannot relax because everything is still possible,” added Austria.
“It is a must win for us because we need a good rest going to the finals. I hope we can sustain the energy.”
Marcio Lassiter finished with 23 points in Game 4 while Alex Cabagnot notched 19 points and eight assists. But Matt Ganuelas-Rosser’s all-around output of 12 points, six rebounds and nine assists as well as the double-double performances of Arwind Santos (16 points, 10 rebounds) and June Mar Fajardo (14 points, 13 rebounds) made all the difference.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone commended the coaching prowess of Austria.
“Not so much to say. They just took it (Game 4) from us. It was a brilliant coaching from coach Leo. On the other hand, it was a terrible coaching of me. I was totally out-coached and outclassed,” said Cone.
“We move forward from it. Tough one to swallow especially since we played so hard and so well the last game.”
Japeth Aguilar finished with 31 points and LA Tenorio 20 points in Game 4.
After scoring a career-high 26 points in their Game 2 loss and 12 points in their Game 3 win, Prince Caperal had a measly three-point production in Game 4.
Earl Scottie Thompson, known for his double-double performances in previous games, was limited to one point, four assists and zero rebound in Game 4.