Kings, Dragons all freshened up for tiebreaker
Barangay Ginebra and Bay Area return to the floor on Wednesday night seeking that one tiny step ahead of the other in a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup championship series that, before the New Year’s break, took the complexion of a super close series.
The Gin Kings will come to Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City shouldering the burden of adjustment after a 99-82 blowout loss at the hands of the visiting Dragons last Dec. 28 at the Big Dome, a return-to-sender beatdown after Ginebra had dealt Bay Area a 96-81 defeat in Game 1.
“I’m not sure who it helps. It’s really a matter of who uses the break the best,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone told the Inquirer, referring to the week-long lull that gave both sides ample time to recover and recuperate.
Game time is at 5:45 p.m., with Cone’s counterpart, Brian Goorjian, already knowing exactly what he’ll do to seize the lead of the series that has turned to a race-to-three.
“I’m not playing too deep into the bench. We very much rely on [import Andrew] Nicholson, and [he has] played every minute until it’s over,” the Aussie coach said.
Interestingly, that piece of advice should also benefit the Kings.
Justin Brownlee, their resident import, was the lone player to score more than 11 points, finishing with 32 that went with 11 assists in the Game 2 loss.
Scottie Thompson, who is inching closer to the Best Player of the Conference award, was limited to just nine points and was hardly a factor off the boards and playmaking with just three rebounds and a pair of assists.
“Good news for the fans is that both teams should come out fresh, which should make it a good game for them. We’re all excited for it,” said Cone, who will try to keep his charges from playing catchup just like in the previous meeting.
“They made great adjustments. We knew it was going to be hard and tough [for us]. But they really made some great adjustments and that’s the beauty of a series. It’s now our turn to make those. We’ll see,” Thompson said in Filipino.
Aside from Brownlee, only Jamie Malonzo was productive for the crowd darlings during the Game 2 loss, putting up 10 points that went with six boards.
“We got them in the first game and they responded,” Brownlee said. “We got into a good rhythm offensively. I just think it’s going to need a lot more effort breaking [Bay Area] down defensively,” he added. INQ