NOW UP 2-1 in their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup finals series, the San Miguel Beermen try to create further distance between them and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in Game Four today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Scheduled for 7 p.m., the defending champions Beermen are out to build on their 99-88 Game Three victory and move a step closer to winning their third straight Philippine Cup title.
Relying on a second-half charge last time around, with its key stalwarts taking up the cudgels, San Miguel bounced back from a stinging overtime loss in the second game of the series and reclaim the lead.
Guard Chris Ross led the Beermen with 24 points and eight assists while backcourt mate Alex Cabagnot finished with 20 markers.
Three-time league most valuable player June Mar Fajardo rebounded from his so-so performance in Game Two with a huge double-double of 17 points and 18 rebounds to go along with three blocks.
Marcio Lassiter had 16 points and Arwind Santos wound up with nine points and eight boards.
On the part of Barangay Ginebra, LA Tenorio was the top scorer with 16 points on top of five rebounds and five assists.
Rookie Kevin Ferrer had 15 and Japeth Aguilar chalked up 12 points and seven rebounds.
All-around player Scottie Thompson, who had a stellar 18-point, 18-rebound and eight-assist outing in the Kings’ Game Two win, was left with a pedestrian eight points, four rebounds and three assists in Game Three.
Stepping up the way they did last time around, San Miguel coach Leo Austria paid credit to his players for staying the course despite things not going for them early in the contest, particularly Mr. Fajardo who he described as key to their attack.
“For a while there I thought we were going to lose again because Ginebra really came out strong and had us scrambling in the first half,” a relieved Austria said in the postgame press conference.
“Thankfully the players believed in the system and executed our game plan as the match progressed, especially June Mar. It was a big factor that we’re able to get the ball to him,” the champion coach added.
Incidentally, Mr. Ross and Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone was involved in a shouting match shortly after Game Three of the finals of the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) tournament.
Mr. Cone seemingly took issue on the San Miguel guard still taking a three-point shot as time expired even when the game was already settled.
The Kings’ coach approached Mr. Ross, who hit the three-pointer, as they walked off the court and said some words, which the player answered back to.
Both men declined to discuss what happened after.