• Beermen seek commanding 3-1 lead vs Gin Kings

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    San Miguel Beer wants to put pressure on Barangay Ginebra San Miguel as the Beermen gun for a commanding 3-1 lead in Game 4 of the best-of-seven championship series of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, at 7 pm tonight.

    The Beermen grabbed the lead anew with a 99-88 win in Game 3 that was marred by a verbal tussle between Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone and San Miguel guard Chris Ross right after the final buzzer sounded.

    Ross converted a three-pointer in the closing seconds with the game already in the bag for the Beermen.

    LA Tenorio of Ginebra San Miguel (middle) attempts to pass the ball past June Mar Fajardo (left) and Marcio Lassiter in Game 3 of the best-of-seven finals of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

    That did not sit well with Cone, who according to witnesses had exchanged heated words with Ross at the hallway.

    With the series getting more physical and testy, San Miguel head coach Leo Austria knows they can’t let their guard down as he expects Ginebra to pour it all in Game 4 to send the series into a best-of-three affair.

    “A 2-1 lead is not safe especially against coach Tim Cone. Coach Tim is a great coach, very smart and he can find ways. A lot of things could still happen in the next game. They cannot afford to give us another win because at 3-1, you’re in deep hole although it’s still possible to recover,” said Austria.

    Reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo bounced back from a so-so performance in Game 2 with 17 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks last Wednesday and more importantly managed to stay out of foul trouble.

    “June Mar learned his lesson well. There’s more extra passes (from Fajardo) and we were able to rely more on our shooters and at the same time the double-teaming on him was gone,” Austria added.

    Fajardo fouled out in their 118-124 overtime loss to the Gin Kings in Game 2. He finished with only 10 points.

    Ross and Alex Cabagnot were the beneficiaries of Fajardo’s extra passes as the two guards combined for 32 points in the second half.

    Ross tallied 24 points and eight assists while Cabagnot had 20 points in Game 3. The duo combined for 29 markers in Game 2.

    Cone admitted that his team failed to bring their perfect game last Wednesday.

    “Our A-minus game isn’t enough. We got to play better than A-minus against them. We need to get up to A-plus if we really want to beat this team. They have a lot of weapons from June Mar, Chris Ross, Marcio (Lassiter) to Arwind (Santos). Even (Gabby) Espinas also delivers,” the 19-time champion Cone said.

    “We have to be better down the stretch next time,” he added.

    Jervy Cruz sat out in Game 2 to rest his shoulder injury and he’s day-to-day basis, according to Cone.

    “He is doubtful to play for Friday maybe possible on Sunday. We’ll see, we lack extra big guys and we need big bodies out there,” said Cone.

    LA Tenorio topscored for the Gin Kings with 16 points but was held to just four in the second half.

    Rookie Kevin Ferrer had another solid game for Ginebra with 15 points, 10 came in the fourth period but was misfiring in the last five minutes of the game.

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