Barangay Ginebra San Miguel eyes to knot the series to two wins apiece when it takes on reigning champion San Miguel Beer tonight in Game 4 of their best-of-seven semifinals in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Beermen want to bounce back from their 95-87 Game 3 defeat and pull away with a 3-1 lead in their 7 p.m. encounter.
“We won a game, but they still have a decided edge in the series. We also know that what we did in Game 3 won’t be enough to win Game 4. We’ll have to continue to lift the level of our game if we hope to even the series. As for Greg (Slaughter), his status has not changed. He’s day-to-day,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
Without Slaughter in the first three games of the semifinals, Cone leaned on the 6’7 Prince Caperal who scored a career-high 26 points in their Game 2 loss and finished with 12 points, including the winning trey, in their Game 3 win.
Caperal proved to be effective in limiting Fajardo’s scoring output.
“He (Caperal) got actual very high basketball IQ and he’s using that. He is listening very well to what we are asking him to do and he’s executing it to perfection,” added Cone. “First game was a revelation because of his availability to shoot the ball and pull away June Mar from the basket. Tonight, he just stuck his nose on the defensive side.”
In Game 4, Ginebra is expected to bank on Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio, who had an output of 25 points and 18 points, respectively, in Game 3.
Cone remains wary of Fajardo saying that the 6’11 behemoth remains a major thorn in their side.
“We are throwing everything at June Mar (Fajardo). The kitchen sink or the toilet whatever, we are throwing everything at June Mar and he finds a way. He is really an amazing player. He is not only good but also very intelligent. If he’s point hungry, he could be so easy to defend but he’s not,” explained Cone.
“He is hungry for wins that makes him special, really special player.”
Despite his foes’ tight defense Fajardo still finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds in Game 3.
“It’s a wake up call for us (Game 3). We just cannot take them easily even if we have two wins. We need to win two more games to be in the finals. They already have the momentum and they know how to beat us but we will be making some adjustments,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria.
San Miguel Beer’s aggressive playmaker Chris Ross remains doubtful if he can play in Game 4 after straining his thigh in Game 3.
Team manager Gee Abanilla said Ross is still waiting for the doctor’s advice if he can join today’s game.