Rare title series of blowout wins
Desire and motivation.
The fight for the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup now hinge on these key attributes as Barangay Ginebra responded with another blowout win Friday after back-to-back humiliations from San Miguel Beer and reduced their best-of-seven championship series into a best-of-three affair.
As if to celebrate his earlier coronation as Best Import of the tournament, Justin Brownlee joined hands with Greg Slaughter and LA Tenorio in dropping a 17-point bomb on the Beermen at the start of Game 4 and the Gin Kings roared to a 130-100 victory to tie the playoffs at 2-all.
Brownlee, who missed the top import award despite powering Ginebra to the Governor’s Cup title the last two seasons, unloaded all but two of his game-high 37 points in the first three quarters. He earlier scattered 42 when the Kings took the opener of the series with a 127-99 rout.
While Ginebra flashed its old never-say-die stand, the defending champion Beermen groped for the form that marked their impressive 134-109 comeback in Game 2 and an even bigger 132-94 followup in Game 3.
“What was lacking was our effort,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, who is seeking a seventh title in seven finals and a second championship this season. “By effort, I mean outworking our opponent. We had a lot of that in Games 2 and 3,” he added.
Renaldo Balkman, who teamed up with Brownlee in leading San Miguel Alab Pilipinas to the Asean Basketball League crown last May, failed to get the expected explosive numbers from the local Beermen, with June Mar Fajardo, earlier honored as the tournament’s top player, outshone by Slaughter. Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross also struggled after sizzling performances.
Cabagnot, who fired a game-high 33 points in Game 2, was good for only 13 in Game 4. Ross, who fired seven triples in Game 3 to finish with 23, scored only once this time.
The four blowout results so far is the first in a title series in the league and Ginebra coach Tim Cone, like many experts, has no explanation for it. But with the aggressive team on both ends of the court amply rewarded, the intensity level is expected to rise even more in their next two outings.
SMB and Ginebra were going for the pivotal third win at press time last night with Game 6 set on Wednesday. If the series goes to a Game 7, the rubber match will be on Friday.
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