• Beermen eye 2-0 lead vs Gin Kings

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    Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone said their Game 1 loss is a “real clunker” and his Gin Kings were embarrassed and frustrated with their 82-109 loss to San Miguel Beer in the series opener of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup finals last Friday.

    Fortunately, the series is a best-of-seven affair and Ginebra gets another chance to prove that they are worthy opponents against the back-to-back All-Filipino champions.

    Junmar Fajardo of SMB scores against Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance of Ginebra during Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Friday. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

    The Gin Kings will try to restore their pride and get back in the series with a win in Game 2 versus the Beermen at 6:30 p.m. today as the finals travels to Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.

    “It was a real clunker last night. Certainly it was embarrassing and frustrating and thankfully it was Game 1 and not Game 7,” said Cone.

    “Our guys have to understand that we have to be at the very top of our game to have a chance to beat San Miguel and needless to say we were far from it. But, as in life, it is not how hard you get knocked down, it is how you get back on your feet that counts,” the 19-time champion mentor added.

    San Miguel started hot in Game 1, erecting a 17-2 early lead and led by as high as 36 points, 85-49, forcing Cone to pull out his starters in the final quarter.

    Reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross led the Beermen’s lopsided victory with 17 points apiece while Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas each had 16 markers for coach Leo Austria, who downplayed their Game 1 rout of Ginebra.

    “Even though we beat them by a huge margin or just by one point, we just only won one game so the war is not over yet,” said Austria, who is eyeing his fourth PBA title.

    “I’m very sure they are now preparing for Game 2 and they will come back strong. We all knew Lucena is more of a Ginebra country. But if we play just like what we did in Game 1, I think we can silence them,” he added.

    Austria knows their rivals can recover from any adversity.

    The Gin Kings erased Alaska’s twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals to reach the semis. They also rallied from a 0-2 deficit against the Star in their best-of-seven semifinals showdown.

    That’s why Austria is very wary of Ginebra in the championship series.

    “They can be down 0-1, 0-2 or 0-3. It doesn’t matter. There’s always a possibility that they can come back because they have proven that,” said Austria.

    Ginebra’s top gunners misfired in Game 1 particularly LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado, who combined for just seven points. Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance were also slowed down in Game 1 with a combined eight-point output.

    “Truly, that was a difficult loss to handle, but if anything our guys have proven is that they are resilient and tough-minded. We’ll bounce back,” said Cone.

    This is the second time that the PBA will be playing a finals game in a venue in Lucena City. Last season, Alaska beat San Miguel in Game 3 of the Philippine Cup finals, 82-75, to take a commanding 3-0 lead that went down the drain as the Beermen won the next four games to shock Alaska.

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