TALK 'N Text coach Norman Black is bracing for a big Barangay Ginebra fightback when Game Four of their PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinal playoff is played on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters seized control of the best-of-five series after winning Games Two (85-79) and Three (98-80) while overcoming injuries to key players and a sudden import change.
New import Tony Mitchell debuted with 29 points and 12 rebounds, using his quickness and fine shooting touch to inflict damage to a low-energy Gin Kings side in Game Three and lead the Texters within one more victory of a second Finals trip this season.
Yet, Black said he expects the Gin Kings to do everything to stay alive and forge a rubber match.
"Well, we are expecting that Ginebra will bring all of their energy into the game tomorrow (Friday), so we will have to play our best game if we want to end the series,” Black said.
Black said he was pleased to see Mitchell combine well with the locals.
“Blending Tony Mitchell into our offense and defense is still our challenge," said the multi-titled coach.
Barangay Ginebra star guard Mark Caguioa’s status remains day-to-day as he continues his recovery from MCL injury on his left knee.
But the reigning PBA MVP said the legion of Ginebra fans that came home disappointed on Wednesday night, can expect a different Gin Kings side in Game Four.
“In Game Four, I’m pretty sure, there’s no way we’re gonna go out there and play like this (Game Three performance) again. We can’t play like this. We just need to be aggressive,” said Caguioa, pointing to his team’s dismal 4-of-27 shooting from beyond the arc.
On whether he will finally be healthy enough to suit up in Game Four, Caguioa was non-committal.
“We’ll see. I wanted to play and jump in there, but the thing with this (injured knee), kailangan ka naka-focus eh. It’s not like yung sprained ankles or that you can tape it lang," he said.
"When you go lateral, pivot or turn, it’s like your mind is always there. If I can play I will. But you’ll never know,” Caguioa added.