EXPECT another ugly, nip-and-tuck battle as Barangay Ginebra seeks to knot its PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against Star in Game Four on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After dropping the first two games, the Gin Kings pulled a game back with a 73-62 win in Game Three - the lowest-scoring game over the last eight conferences, or since San Mig Coffee, then handled by Tim Cone, edged Alaska, 70-65, in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
The Gin Kings held the Hotshots to a paltry 29-percent shooting on the way to their lowest output in nearly nine years, or since the 2008 Fiesta Conference when they suffered an 88-60 beating at the hands of an Alaska side then also coached by Cone.
Now with the Gin Kings, Cone, the master of the triangle offense, continues to show he’s a defense-first tactician in Game Four that’s tipping off at 7 p.m.
“Game Four is the key,” Cone said of the eve of the matchup. “We know it’s going to be another great defensive battle and we’ll have to find a way to grind it out.
“Our players have shown great resilience all-conference long so we like our chances,” he added.
Apart from Sol Mercado, Japeth Aguilar also delivered some of the biggest baskets down the stretch in Game Three that prevented the Gin Kings from falling into a deep 3-0 hole.
“Nasa kamay pa rin namin,” Aguilar said. “But we still have to keep our focus, keep moving the ball, and keep playing good defense.”