(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Meralco
Cone: ‘I think they have a lot of punches left’.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is keen on producing another combination of efficient play and grit-like attitude tonight when it seeks a commanding 3-0 lead on the Meralco Bolts and close in on retaining its title in Game 3 of their best-of-seven finals series in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Believing that the Bolts still have a puncher’s chance despite contrasting performances after the first two games of the series, coach Tim Cone and the rest of the Kings are bracing for an even-difficult battle set for 7 p.m. before another expected big crowd at the historic coliseum.
“I think they have a lot of punches left to throw us,” Cone said. “They’re gonna come out full punches in Game 3. I’m just glad Manny Pacquiao isn’t on their team. That’s the punch we probably couldn’t take.”
Game 2 hero LA Tenorio agrees, saying: “Alam naman natin sa ligang ito maraming miracle nangyayari. We really have to come out stronger. The series is not yet over. Far far, from over.”
Meralco coach Norman Black, whose team blew a chance at evening the series after falling short in Sunday’s 86-76 defeat, remains hopeful his team can come back and make it the championship chase competitive.
“We know what it’s like to be down 2-0 and most of the time, the teams that were down 2-0 did not bounce back to win a championship,” Black said. “But there are instances when teams were down 3-0 and came back and won. We saw San Miguel do it recently so it is possible.
“Until they win four games, we’ll be out there fighting,” he stressed.
The two games have seen how Ginebra has plenty of players contributing and how it is the opposite for Meralco.
Friday’s 102-87 triumph in Lucena City saw the Kings getting great performances from almost every player – namely import Justin Brownlee, Greg Slaughter, Joe Devance, Sol Mercado and Kevin Ferrer.
Two days later, Ginebra had to lean on Brownlee and Tenorio in the final six minutes that spoiled the Bolts’ six-point lead in the fourth period.
Meralco’s lack of local support for Best Import Allen Durham has hurt its chances of avenging last year’s Governors’ Cup defeat to Ginebra.
Jared Dillinger has yet to play a prominent role for the Bolts as far as offense is concerned. The outspoken forward hasn’t back up his social media talk after averaging 5.5 points on a combined 3-of-18 shooting.
Baser Amer has dished out 2.5 assists in the first two games, marred by his failure to produce one in Game 1 even as Chris Newsome, runner-up to Slaughter in the Best Player of the Conference race, has posted 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
“Down 0-2, yeah there’s pressure. I mean, it’s normal, right? It’s normal to have pressure in the finals,” Dillinger said. “But just keep staying positive, just got to focus, just one game at a time. We’re down 0-2 but we’re just focused on one game and we’ll just go from there.”