(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. -- Ginebra vs. San Miguel
BARANGAY Ginebra and San Miguel Beer play for all the marbles tonight as they clash in a no-tomorrow Game 5 showdown of the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game is set at 7 p.m.
The Gin Kings led 2-1 heading to Game 4 but was stunned by the sudden surge of the Beermen’s offense that saw the Tim Cone-mentored squad scoring only seven points in a dismal second period performance and trailed by as high as 30 points until they succumbed to defeat.
San Miguel pulled off that stunning, series-tying win behind the efforts of Marcio Lassiter, who went berserk from the three-point area – shooting 7-of-9 from rainbow distance – early in the first half that spelled doom on Ginebra’s campaign.
Cone believes that it was on him that the Gin Kings failed to slam the door on the defending champions.
“I made a mistake early,” said Cone following his Kings’ heartbreaking 72-101 loss that evened up their semifinal duel at two games apiece.
“I tried to conserve our guys and played zone to start the basketball game and they got five or six shots in a row right off the bat against the zone and that kind of got them going. We never had an answer from the opening bell.”
Cone added that one bad call had spelled disaster for Ginebra.
“That’s something I’ve got to live with as a coach, making that bad decision.”
Ginebra is eyeing to barge into the finals since the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup and have a shot at winning a title since the 2008 Fiesta Conference.
Should the Gin Kings prevail tonight, it will be also their first-ever finals stint with Cone as coach.
The 18-time champion coach, however, sees Game 5 becoming more intense and tougher than the past four games.
“We’re obviously on an uphill battle, but now it’s coming down to all the marbles, which is usually what happens in a series,” said Cone after pointing out the advantage in experience as a team SMB has over his.
“We’re gonna feel fortunate that we’re gonna play a Game 5. We’ll see.”
And Cone believes that losing by 30 points is not a gauge as to whether they will fail in their journey to the finals.
“In the big scheme of things, in the big picture, a 30-point loss is the same thing as a one-point loss in a series,” Cone pointed out. “If you win by 30 points it doesn’t mean you’d get an extra win under your belt. So we’re gonna take it for what it was.”
San Miguel, meantime, is batting for its fourth finals stint in six conferences under coach Leo Austria.
The Beermen will also have a chance to retain the Governors’ Cup crown they won over Alaska last year.
Austria is certain that it will be war once the buzzer sounds at the start of Game 5.
“I’m expecting a tough Game 5. Everybody wants to win,” he said.
But the feisty San Miguel coach is hoping that its explosive Game 4 intensity will rub off in the do-or-die game.
“Hopeful ako na in the next game this momentum, this good start, will carry over,” Austria said. “I don’t know if this will help a lot, itong malaking lamang, but I think yung confidence level ng team medyo tataas.”
Meanwhile, Reynel Hugnatan earned the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honor for the period of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2.
In Game 3 of Meralco’s PBA Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal series against top seed TNT, the 6-foot-4 Hugnatan unveiled his new weapon from the three-point zone.
The ninth overall pick in the 2003 PBA Draft went 5-of-6 from the rainbow arc, including two crucial triples from the corner during a dizzying 15-6 windup to lead the Bolts to a stunning 119-113 win against the Katropa on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Hugnatan averaged 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the team’s back-to-back wins in the semifinals.