Beermen eye 3-1 edge
Things are finally heating up in the PBA Philippine Cup finals.
From the shouting match involving Ginebra coach Tim Cone and San Miguel point guard Chris Ross that marred the end of Game 3 to the trash-talk between SMB forward Arwind Santos and Gin Kings rookie Kevin Ferrer in the final period, the series has taken a fiery twist.
With the post-match incident last Wednesday night providing an intriguing backdrop, the Beermen look to bury the Gin Kings into a deeper hole and move one victory away from the perpetual trophy in Game 4 on Friday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen, champions of the last two All-Filipino tournaments, regained control of the best-of-seven series with a 99-88 win in Game 3.
It was nip-and-tuck for most of the game, before the Beermen methodically broke down the Gin Kings in the last four minutes, behind the hulking presence of reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and outside sniping of Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot.
“They (Gin Kings) cannot afford to give us another win,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria.
“It’s not safe because we know coach Tim Cone. He can find ways. At 3-1 though, you’re in a deep hole especially against us. We’ve experienced that before so we don’t want that to happen to us.”
Fajardo is adamant that the Beermen start strong, after falling behind by 11 in the second period of Game 3.
“We have to start strong,” said Fajardo in Filipino. “We have to win Game 4 because when they tie the series, the momentum will be on their side. We just have to sacrifice a bit more because we know it’s not going to be easy.”
Ross has been the catalyst to the Beermen’s success in the finals, after finishing with 24 points and eight assists in 40 minutes in Game 3.
But the point guard drew Cone’s ire when he buried a triple with 26 seconds remaining and the outcome already settled.
“There’s a shot clock, and they’re playing defense on me, so I took the shot, it’s basketball. I don’t think I did anything wrong,” said Ross.
Cone refused to comment on the incident, but vowed his team will be back stronger for Game 4.
“We just have to be better executing down the stretch,” said the 19-time champion coach.