The Star Hotshots seek a commanding 3-0 lead against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings on Monday in Game 3 of their best-of-seven semifinal series of Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Game 3 is set 7 p.m.
Despite holding a 2-0 cushion in the series, Star Hotshots coach Chito Victolero is not counting Ginebra out yet as they need to win two more games in order to reach the finals for the first time since the 2015 Governor’s Cup.
“Two-zero is nothing if we don’t win two more games,” said the former Mapua Institute of Technology coach. “We need to win four games and we need to be ready for Ginebra’s comeback. We have to stick with our defense every game. Our best offense is our best defense.”
Star’s veteran forward Jean Marc Pingris said there is no reason to celebrate yet even though his team up by two games.
“We have to stay humble and keep our feet on the ground because we still need to win two more games to reach the finals,” he said.
“The closer we are to our goal, it becomes harder. We just have to play our best,” Pingris added.
Games 1 and 2 hero Paul Lee echoed Pingris’ sentiments.
“We must play good defense in Game 3 because it is going to be a lot harder physically and mentally. It is far from over yet, so everybody should step defensively,” he said
Lee had nine of his 18 points in the pivotal fourth period of their 78-74 win in Game 1 and contributed 17 markers in their 91-89 escape in Game Two, eight came in the final canto.
Aside from Lee and Pingris, the Hotshots will also rely on rookie Jio Jalalon, Aldrech Ramos, Justin Melton and Allein Maliksi.
Gin Kings veteran guards remain optimistic of their chances to get back in the series but admitted they need to win Game 3 to stay alive.
“It’s definitely a must-win on Monday (Game 3) but we’re not playing our best game game yet in this series, so I believe we can still come back,” said Mercado.
“It’s been a close first two games. We’re just a few lay-ups and rebounds away, and they were not doing special in those two games,” said Helterbrand. “I’m still confident we can comeback.”
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said the Star just made the right plays down the stretch while his Gin Kings did not.
“Bottom line is the Star has beaten as us down the stretch. In both games, they executed and got rebounds. We didn’t,” said Cone.
Cone added that Joe Devance may suit up in the crucial Game 3 and help the team’s cause.
“There’s a chance that Joe may finally play. His presence should help us,” he said.
Devance injured his knee in the first game of their quarterfinal series against Alaska.