• Gin Kings seek semis equalizer

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    Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will try to send its best-of-seven semifinals series against Star into a best-of-three affair with a win in Game 4 today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

    Coming off a 73-62 win in Game 3 on Monday, the Gin Kings hope to make it two in a row against the Hotshots in their crucial encounter at 7 p.m.

    Veteran guard Sol Mercado knows they are still in a must-win situation as they expect Star to bounce back from that loss.

    Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and Rafi Reavis of Star Hotshots battle for the ball during Game 3 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena in Pasay City on Monday. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    “We haven’t achieved anything yet. We know they are going to comeback and the next one is a must win as well,” said Mercado, who had 16 points and six assists in Game 3.

    “You can’t go down 1-3, so we have to forget about this one (Game 3). We just did what we needed to do to stay in the series,” he added.

    After yielding close decisions in Games 1 (74-78) and 2 (89-91), Ginebra managed to make the needed plays down the stretch to steal Game 3 and trim the Hotshots’ series lead to 2-1.

    The win gave life to the fading chances of the Gins Kings.

    “The good news is we’re back in the series right now. We are not even but we’re back in. We are still behind but again we’re back in it,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, adding the presence of ailing veteran forward Joe Devance gave inspiration to his teammates.

    “Joe’s playing through injury. Whether he’ll be available in the next game, I don’t know. It’s 50-50. I thought his minutes out there were key. He gave us size and created more space. His basketball IQ is off the charts. We become a lot more intelligent team when he’s on the floor. He makes us smarter and better,” Cone added.

    Devance, who sat out the last three games of Ginebra due to foot injury, returned in Game 3 and finished with six points and six rebounds.

    Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said there’s no need to push the panic button.

    “We are still okay. No need to panic but we need to have a sense of urgency now heading into Game 4,” said Victolero.

    Paul Lee, who led the Star Hotshots in Games 1 and 2, was held down to just seven points in Game 3 and vows to bounce back on Wednesday.

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