Reigning champion San Miguel Beer is keen to finish off Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum, at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
The Beermen, eyeing their 23rd overall crown, won Game 4, 94-85, to pull away with a 3-1 lead.
“We’re not sure yet despite having a commanding 3-1 lead,” coach Leo Austria of San Miguel Beer said in Filipino. “We know how great coach Tim Cone is. He knows how to adjust in this kind of situation, so the possibility is still there.”
Austria cautioned that Ginebra is capable of duplicating SMB’s epic comeback against Alaska last year, crawling out of a 0-3 deficit to win back-to-back Philippine Cup titles.
“Last year, we’re 0-3 deficit but we were able to upset our opponent.”
“We are facing a great team, a great coach. Anything can still happen. It’s not over yet. You can see in their body language that they don’t want to let this go. I’m hoping we end this on Sunday. Everybody is very tired from the players, to the fans and the media. We need to rest. The second conference is just a week away after this series,” added Austria.
Grand Slam coach Tim Cone of Ginebra said that all that matters for now is Game 5.
“Deep hole – got to see if we could climb out of it. Just focus on Game 5, that’s all we’re worried about,” he said.
Barangay Ginebra must avoid another bad start to stay alive. The Gin Kings were derailed by an early 34-60 deficit resulting in their 109-82 loss in Game 1.
The Gin Kings’ rally faltered anew in Game 4 en route to their 85-94 defeat. San Miguel Beer’s defense limited Ginebra to 0-of-5 beyond the arc in the first half. Consequently, the Beermen tallied 11 of their 15 triples in the first two quarters while the Gin Kings scored all five triples in the second half.
“They beat us up black and blue, start to finish and they were awesome,” added Cone. “They did everything they wanted to do. They got the ball to June Mar (Fajardo), they hit their shots. They ate us at the beginning of the game.”
Joe Devance, who led the Gin Kings with 22 points and six rebounds, was the only player who didn’t struggle offensively, posting a 9-of-12 shooting from the field.
Japeth Aguilar shot atrociously with a 5-of-17 from the field for 12 points, Solomon Mercado 3-of-12, Mark Caguioa 1-of-7, Kevin Ferrer 2-of-6 and LA Tenorio 4-of-11 in Game 4.