Ginebra braces for 'real comeback kings' San Miguel as Gin Kings seek to close out semis series 
Tim Cone and the Kings try to finish off the Beermen. Jaime Campos

BARANGAY Ginebra braces for a mighty comeback by San Miguel Beer as it seeks to finish off their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series on Sunday night before an expected sellout crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings are oozing confidence following a 97-96 squeaker thanks to Japeth Aguilar’s game-winning baseline jumper Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

But the league’s crowd darlings remain wary of the powerhouse Beermen, the authors of the greatest comeback story in league history, having overcome a 0-3 deficit in the last Philippine Cup finals against Alaska.

“This team has not only talent, but great heart and coach Leo really knows how to pull their levers,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said after their Game Three win that put them on the verge of clinching their first finals appearance in three years.

[See Ginebra hero Japeth Aguilar not celebrating too much as he keeps eyes on ultimate prize]

Cone insisted they hardly gained momentum after the hard-earned win that saw plenty of heroes rise aside from Aguilar as Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, Justin Brownlee, and Sol Mercado also delivered in their own right.

“To me, a playoff series is more of a ping-pong match. It’s not a momentum thing,” the champion coach said. “Sometimes when you get a couple of games in a row, then you can gather some momentum. But winning one game is definitely not momentum.”

“The advantage almost goes to the other team because they’re the ones making the adjustments and they have time to look at the video and do everything. Then when we come in and play, we have to make in-game adjustments, which is much harder than pre-game adjustments,” he added.

[See June Mar Fajardo says SMB needs to avoid endgame miscues, hurried shots to extend semis series]

What makes it harder is it’s a close-out game for a spot in the finals of the season-ending tournament, an obstacle, LA Tenorio believes, will be the ultimate gauge of their progress under Cone.

“Yung one game na yun, yun yung pinakamahirap na game,” the Gin Kings star playmaker said. ”Yun yung magde-determine kung talagang kaya namin to go to the next level.”

“Hindi bibigay ng basta-basta yang San Miguel na yan,” he added. “Hirap na hirap kami sa kanila and I’m sure mas mahirap next game. siguro tripleng hirap yun.” 


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos