FACED with a must-win game as well as the prospect of his best player not suiting up, San Mig coach Tim Cone knows only one way to approach Game Four on Saturday night.
“We’ll do whatever it takes,” the multi-titled American mentor said. “We’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better going into Game Four. Our only concern right now is getting this series to a Game Five.”
Cone's Mixers are down 1-2 in their PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinal playoff with Alaska and needing a win to prevent the Aces from marching to their first league finals since Cone left the team two years ago.
Worse, Cone isn't even certain if he can count on James Yap, who has been slowed down by a stiff back the entire playoffs and has been listed as a 'game-time decision' for Saturday's match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I have no definitive answer at this point,” Cone told Spin.ph when asked about Yap's availability for Game Four.
Alaska, on the other hand, can smell blood after winning Games Two and Three of the best-of-five series - a major feat for a team that before that had lost nine games in a row to San Mig and its former coach.
“We’re getting better as a team and we have lessons learned," said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, a longtime Cone deputy now on the cusp of his first finals appearance as a full-pledged head coach.
"Again both teams are well rested, but with that being said, we can’t celebrate and we can’t be happy (with the series lead). We’ve got to take care of business on Saturday,” Trillo added.
Aces import Robert Dozier is expected to play despite suffering a swollen left ankle which he twisted badly midway through the fourth quarter of Game Three.
The Best Import candidate had 11 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks on Wednesday, but Calvin Abueva more than filled the gap with a game-high 24 points.