Streak­ing Gine­bra eyes se­ries lead vs Star

Manila Times - - SPORTS - BY JOSEF T. RAMOS

BARANGAY Gine­bra San Miguel Gin Kings def­i­nitely have the mo­men­tum go­ing into the crit­i­cal Game 5 of their be­stof-seven semi­fi­nals se­ries against Star Hot­shots at 7 p.m. tonight in the Philip­pine Basketball As­so­ci­a­tion Sea­son 42 Philip­pine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Win­ners of their last two games, the Gin Kings hope to claim their first se­ries lead against the Hot­shots.

The cru­cial match will see the win­ner get­ting a 3-2 lead and put­ting its one foot in­side the best-of-seven cham­pi­onship se­ries.

Gine­bra’s Grand Slam coach Tim Cone of Gine­bra said the biggest chal­lenge head­ing into Game 5 is how to sus­tain the team’s en­ergy as fa­tigue could catch them any­time now.

“Six games in 11 days and ev­ery one has been tough,” said Cone, re­fer­ring to the team’s path to the semis that in­cluded two hard-fought quar­ter­fi­nal matches against the seed Alaska Aces squad.

“There was no easy game, win or lose. It makes us very weary, and I think the big key for us is try­ing to con­tinue find­ing en­ergy to bat­tle their pres­sure and the way they are play­ing and the en­ergy of Ping (Pin­gris) and (Jio) Jalalon,” he added. “That’s our bat­tle go­ing into Game 5, try­ing to find and sus­tain en­ergy.”

Af­ter los­ing Game 1 (74-78) and Game 2 (89-91), the Gin Kings tied the se­ries with im­pres­sive wins in Game 3 (73-62) and Game 4 (93-86).

Like in the pre­vi­ous matches, Cone ex­pects Game 5 to be a de­fen­sive bat­tle and they need to keep their poise against the young Star five.

“Well, it’s not go­ing to be any dif­fer­ent from the last four games. It’s go­ing to come down to stretch plays as both teams are de­fend­ing re­ally well,” Cone said.

“We haven’t found any­thing that’s writ­ten in stone for us that we know that works. So we are still search­ing also to find ways. If we don’t de­fend, they will de­fend so we have to keep up with them de­fen­sively.”

Jervy Cruz was a rev­e­la­tion in Game 4 for the Gin Kings with 21 points, pro­vid­ing spark off the bench.

Hot­shots head coach Chito Vic­tolero rued the poor of­fi­ci­at­ing in Game 4 and ad­mit­ted that took the toll on them as his play­ers lost com­po­sure in the end.

“We just have to stay to­gether. We have to main­tain our pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. At the start of the se­ries, I’m ex­pect­ing it will be tough. Now it’s a best of three and we’re 2-2. It’s still good for us. It’s about com­po­sure now,” said Vic­tolero.

Paul Lee was ab­sent in the Star’s of­fen­sive scheme in the last two games as he was held down to sin­gle dig­its in Games 3 ( seven points) and 4 (nine), thanks to the de­fense of Gine­bra led by Solomon Mer­cado.

“It’s tough, re­ally tough (Gine­bra’s de­fense), we have to work to­gether and con­trib­ute,” said Lee.

PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Solomon Mer­cado of Gine­bra de­fends the ball against Paul Lee of Star Hot­shots dur­ing Game 4 of the best- of- seven semi­fi­nals of the Philip­pine Basketball As­so­ci­a­tion Sea­son 42 Philip­pine Cup at the Araneta Coli­seum on Wed­nes­day.

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