ÀNTIPOLO CITY - Sol Mercado expects an even tougher battle when Barangay Ginebra faces Alaska anew in a do-or-die encounter for a berth in the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Kings hacked out an 85-81 win over the Aces on Sunday night af the Ynares Center here, rallying from as much as a 50-33 deficit in the third quarter.
While elated with the victory that extended the seventh-seeded Kings' campaign in the all-Filipino conference, Mercado said the team will still have to go through the eye of the needle to repeat over the No. 2 seeds.
"It's an all-out war," he declared. "This is an all-out war. They're gonna bring it, we're gonna bring it. It's a 50-50 chance for both teams."
Mercado finished with 12 points and combined with LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson in a huge Ginebra third-quarter run that saw them go on a 21-0 tear to erase a 33-50 deficit.
The stocky Fil-Am guard said he just wasn't ready to call it a day for the league's most popular ballclub, which got most of the cheers from the crowd of 10,414.
"A long break and we sit home, so we wanted to win," said Mercado of the scenario had Ginebra lost. "So we just gave it anything we had and there's no tomorrow."
Mercado stressed the Kings wanted it so bad in the first half that they were forcing most of their shots. At the break, coach Tim Cone urged the team settle down.
"He said just let the game come us," said Mercado.
The Kings did and now they are just a win away from making a second straight semifinal appearance.
The sudden-death is slated on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.