By JONAS TERRADO
6:30 p.m. – San Miguel vs Ginebra
(San Miguel leads series 3-1)
Defending champion San Miguel looks to bring the curtains down on Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and advance to a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup finals appearance tonight in Game 5 of their best-of-seven semifinal series at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Beermen, who took Game 4 with a massive 102-81 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena, are keen on not letting a commanding 3-1 series lead slip away, knowing Ginebra’s reputation of overcoming big obstacles.
Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. with San Miguel its sixth appearance in the title series since coach Leo Austria took over as coach in 2014.
“Must-win for us to get to the finals. But at 3-1, it’s still manageable yan para sa opponent,” said Austria, who was pleased with the way his team responded two nights ago following Tuesday’s 95-87 defeat.
For the Beermen to close out the series, they will need the same production from their talented starters composed of June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross.
Cabagnot broke out of a shooting slump in Game 3 by dropping 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting while Ross made all three triples in the first half despite dealing with a strained right thigh.
With Marcio Lassiter sizzled anew and Arwind Santos doing an all-around effort, San Miguel didn’t need much lifting from reigning four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, who still produced 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Fajardo may get the necessary heavy minutes again, with Ginebra fighting for its dear lives and try to complete the fourth 3-1 comeback in a best-of-seven series.
“Expect namin na mas tataasan nila intensity nila, kami rin kailangan intensity namin para makuha ang panalo,” said Fajardo, who despite not getting a chance to face rival Greg Slaughter endured difficult battles with Ginebra’s surprise gambit Prince Caperal.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone was left to pin the blame on himself for not making quick counters on San Miguel’s major adjustments, particularly on using the zone defense.
“It was a brilliant coaching by coach Leo. On the other hand, it was terrible coaching by me. I was totally outcoached and outclassed, but we move forward from it,” said Cone.
LA Tenorio, meanwhile, vowed to fight until the end, saying: “We really have to focus on lahat talaga, every detail na gagawin talaga namin especially next game. We’ll be ready, we’re not going to quit right away.”