And think just 20 days ago, Barangay Ginebra was just playing to survive the qualifiers.
Now, the Gin Kings, looking for his chance at the right time in the league, are within just one Sunday walk of reaching the final of the PBA Governors Cup.
“We have to come back and see if we can deliver the same performance on Sunday,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said after Saturday’s 104-94 Game 2 win over NLEX at the Mall. of Asia Arena. “Our work is not done yet.”
Just this past March 6, Barangay Ginebra needed a job to rescue magic from the rarely used veteran Jeff Chan to produce a harrowing 104-93 victory over Rain or Shine that kept the Kings from being knocked out. out of the quarterfinals. They now lead the Road Warriors, 2-0, in the race for three places.
That third win won’t be easy, though, and the Gin Kings know it.
“The closing game was very difficult. It’s always been tough,” Cone said. “There’s a degree of despair on the other side of the floor.”
And if there’s one team where desperation always works, it’s for whichever team is being handled by the coach facing Cone’s side of the field.
“I know it can [to come back from a 0-2 deficit],” said Cone. “And with [NLEX coach] Yeng [Guiao’s] team, it seems always possible. They are always a team that will return. No doubt. ”
“So we will consider Sunday as a match that we prepare for. We’ll try to meet their intensity as we go, the same thing we did tonight. We will not change our approach.”
One thing Ginebra did on Friday night was use a committee to make up for the absence of long-legged striker Japeth Aguilar.
“I think that’s really the key to it all. We talked about the fact that no one can replace Japeth with themselves. [Winning] Cone said.
Among those stepping up was Nard Pinto, who picked up 10 points in the second stage, where the kings fell behind by 10 points.
What followed was an always volatile third quarter for Ginebra. This time around, Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson and Joe Devance combined to give The Kings an 18-point, 78-60 lead, which they used as a stepping stone until the sirens sounded.
“That’s something we couldn’t do early in the conference. We’re playing the third quarter badly. It’s something we’ve talked about we’re trying to fix,” Cone said. “We have been and are doing better than that. The boys are focusing on the break. And the stakes are much higher, so you have to go out [strong]. ”
Brownlee led the way with 32 points, as Thompson hit a seventh straight double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Christian Standhardinger chipped 17 while LA Tenorio added 15.
The local cast of NLEX finally made it to the competition, but the sluggish departure of imported Cameron Clark jeopardized the Road Warriors’ chances of a comeback.
Matt Nieto finished with 19 points, while Clark and four others finished with doubles.
“Our locals score a little better, our imports score down,” said Guiao. “Difference between 32 year old Brownlee and [Clark’s] 15 is 17… [he] was unable to cancel the partner’s performance. That complicates our problems.”
In the other semi-final, Meralco leveled his streak with top seed Magnolia with an 81-75 defensive win in the second set.
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