Ginebra ties series at 2-2
It is very rare when Tim Cone, a man who has seen so many battles in the PBA, doesn’t get to explain how things happen for his team.
Minutes after steering Barangay Ginebra to a 93-86 victory over Star on Wednesday night that tied their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four series at 2-2 at Smart Araneta Coliseum, the two-time Grand Slam champion coach wasn’t actually at a loss for words at how they defeated the Hotshots a second straight time.
He just couldn’t point a finger at the thing they did right, which they hope to use for Game 5 as the crowd-darling Gin Kings gun for the series lead for the first time and move closer to a second straight title series appearance.
“I’m going to have to look at the video of this game when I get home and see what happened,” Cone said as reporters waited at what he would say as the real keys to the win. “I don’t quite know how we did it, but we were in control most of the way.”
Knowing the genius in Cone, he will be able to find that out with the crucial fifth game scheduled after just one day’s rest this Friday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
“All we did was tie this series and made it a best-of-three,” was how he opened up the interview, quite a safe answer.
Cone had a bunch of guys taking the load off the shoulders of Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio, with Jervy Cruz shooting 21 points—a personal season-high —and Chris Ellis adding 10 and almost everyone he threw in the fray contributing.
Defense was also a big factor for the Kings, who shut down the league’s deadliest offense for the second straight game and made life miserable for the man who led in making it happen for Star all season long, Paul Lee.
Lee was starved to single digit scoring for the second straight night, shooting just nine points despite taking 14 attempts from the field and making just 1-for-6 from the three-point range.
The man responsible for that was Sol Mercado, whom Cone described as “probably the best one-on-one defender in the league.”
“Sol is doing a good job on Paul Lee. Paul is a dynamic player, but Sol is a dynamic defender, too. He has become a special defender,” Cone said.
Ginebra actually started out slow but the Hotshots couldn’t stop the Kings once they got going. There were no big leads in the contest, but Ginebra seemed to just have Star figured out in the game that the Hotshots were able to peel away every time the game got close.
Meanwhile, San Miguel looks to break a 2-2 tie with TNT KaTropa in their Final Four series on Thursday night also at Smart Araneta.
“We need to come out with the same intensity, if not more, than what they will come up with,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
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