By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE best-of-seven finals series of the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup hits the pivotal Game Four today with one team out to create further distance and move a step closer to the championship, and the other looking to pull even and get back in the swing of things.
Having won the last two matches of the series, defending champions San Miguel Beermen have willed themselves to a position of advantage over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in the championship race.
The Beermen went up 2-1 after an impressive performance on Wednesday night in Game Three that saw them flipping the switch to turn a close game at the end of the first half into a 132-94 rout when the dust settled.
San Miguel turned to their tight defense and balanced offense to mightily frustrate Barangay Ginebra in the second half, leaving the latter and its faithful to utter disbelief.
Import Renaldo Balkman led San Miguel in the Game Three victory with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Guard Chris Ross, who absorbed a gash on his forehead from an inadvertent elbow from Mr. Balkman, had 23 points, going seven-of-13 from beyond the arc, while reigning league most valuable player June Mar Fajardo had 22 markers.
Marcio Lassiter and Christian Standhardinger each had 12 points for the Beermen with Arwind Santos chipping 11 points of his own.
Barangay Ginebra, for its part, saw only two players in double digits, with import Justin Brownlee finishing with 32 points and veteran Mark Caguioa adding 12.
“I did not expect this outcome as we were expecting a close fight. It has been a weird series so far with three blowouts already. But I have to give credit to my players because they really showed they wanted to win,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after their Game Three victory.
“But this is just one win. There is still a long way to go. We are up in the series and this big win is a morale boost for us. We have to continue working though,” he added.
LIVING LEGEND SPEAKS
Having seen the Kings struggle in the last two games of the series, Barangay Ginebra legendary player-coach Robert Jaworski, Sr. said the Kings have to do a better job adjusting to the situation, among other things, if they are to come back in the series and top a team like San Miguel.
“If you noticed, they (Kings) don’t talk to each other, you check the score coming from second chance (points) of San Miguel and you’ll be amazed at the percentage (Beermen had 32 second chance points to 10 of Barangay Ginebra). No boxing out — there are so many things that they have to put together. They got to win on Friday,” said Mr. Jaworski in an interview with media after Game Three.
“I think the best way is to take the opportunity when you have it. It’s a lot of adjustments but hey — they played the first game and won by how much? (28 points, 127-99) Actually, they loosened up; they could have won with the same number. I think it’s just a lack of focus on what to do. It’s not realizing that there are only seven games. If they get to step on the gas, they have to step on the gas all the way,” the Living Legend said.
Game Four today is set for 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Prior to the game the awards for best player of the conference and best import will be awarded.
-- Taken from Businessworld --