IT’S back to square one for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Star but with back-to-back victories, the Gin Kings have the momentum heading into Game Four of their race-to-four semifinals series in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tip-off is set at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Gin Kings hoping to totally shift the tide in their favor after faltering in the first two games.
But Head Coach Tim Cone has become more cautious after his Gin Kings scarred the Hotshots for a second straight time.
“Basically, we just tied the series. We still have to figure out the necessary adjustments for the next game. This is a long series,” Cone said.
Ginebra big men Jervy Cruz and Japeth Aquilar provided the killer baskets that avoided for the Gin Kings a 0-3 hole. Cruz topscored with 21 points and six rebounds, while Aguilar added 18 points and 10 boards.
Sol Mercado managed only nine points but had an impressive job of limiting Paul Lee to nine points.
“Paul is a dynamic scorer while Sol is a dynamic defender. He did a well against Paul tonight,” Cone said.
Lee was forced to pass the ball more often than usual, giving the offensive chores to Allein Maliksi and rookie Jio Jalalon who finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
“We were engaged in another defensive battle. Good thing we got on top of this,” Cone said.
The game was tight until the third period when the score was tied at 60. But Star fell into a maze of errors and couldn’t sink their shots in the fourth frame.
The Hotshots committed 17 turnovers as Lee fell into foul trouble early in the fourth quarter to compound the Hotshots’ woes. Mark Barroca fouled out midway of the fourth quarter.