It took the multititled Tim Cone a few minutes to gather his thoughts before talking at how amazed he was with the effort his Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings came up with Tuesday night.
Two nights after taking a truly heart-rending defeat at the hands of San Miguel Beer, the Kings played their guts out in a virtual do-or-die setting and scuttled the Beermen, 95-87, to chop down the defending champions’ lead to 2-1 in their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup Final series at Mall of Asia Arena.
“You can’t have painful losses like that and come out the next game and play very well,” Cone told reporters as his Kings grabbed some sort of momentum heading into the critical fourth game of their series on Thursday also at the modern Pasay venue.
“They (Kings) really showed their never-say-die spirit tonight, especially after that painful, painful (Game 2) loss,” Cone went on, referring to a 104-102 overtime setback where they blew a five-point lead heading into the final 63 seconds of the match.
This game followed basically the same script that the previous one did, with Ginebra taking control of the match early. The only difference was that the Kings held on until the very end in this one.
“I told my coaching staff that we need to be perfect in order to beat these (Beermen),” he said. “We had some lapses here and there, but we were almost perfect tonight. It would take an A-plus-plus for us to beat them again.
“We are going into another do-or-die game on Thursday,” Cone added.
Japeth Aguilar scored 25 points, 13 of them coming in the third quarter, with skipper LA Tenorio shooting all of his 18 in the final three periods that helped keep Ginebra in control.
June Mar Fajardo scattered 23 points and had 13 rebounds for the Beermen, an output that continues to befuddle Cone.
“We have thrown everything at him, the kitchen sink and even the toilet,” he said of Fajardo. “He’s just amazing.”
Meanwhile, Magnolia shoots for a second straight win to move ahead of NLEX in their Final Four series as the Hotshots try to continue plodding along without their best low post defender, Marc Pingris.
“His absence is an inspiration to the team,” said coach Chito Victolero, referring to Marc Pingris who was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn left ACL. “We’re undermanned and we will need the entire team to step up.”
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