The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel saved themselves from falling into a 0-3 pit, as they edged out the San Miguel Beermen, 95-87, in Game Three of their semifinals affair, Tuesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The best-of-seven series is now 2-1, still in favor of the three-time defending Philippine Cup champions.
“It seems like we have to play perfect and they just come out and play. They’re just so free-flowing and they’re just out there enjoying themselves and having a good time and we have to bleed for every possession,” said head coach Tim Cone “We have to play perfect to beat them and we almost played perfect tonight.”
Japeth Aguilar anchored Ginebra with 25 points and 12 rebounds. LA Tenorio finished with 18 points and five boards, while Prince Caperal continued to provide on offense, as he chipped in 12 markers spiked by two treys.
The Barangay were already up 14, 83-69, early in the payoff period, but the Beermen surged back by firing 11 straight points — ended by Alex Cabagnot’s freebies — to knock within three, 80-83, with 6:07 remaining.
The Gin Kings were then able to steady the ship, thanks to a mini 7-0 scoring spree sparked by Caperal’s three-pointer, to establish a favorable 90-81 advantage with just 4:38 on the clock.
San Miguel tried one last push as they closed within distance again, 87-90, with 2:08 left to play, but Ginebra found ways through Aguilar and Tenorio’s three-point play to prevent another meltdown from taking place and secure the victory.
“We’re happy to get one but we’re not satisfied,” added the multi-titled mentor.
Jervy Cruz had 12 markers as well for Ginebra. Joe Devance nearly had a double-double of 11 points and nine boards, and Scottie Thompson was all over the place with nine points, seven caroms, and five assists.
June Mar Fajardo led the Beermen with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Marcio Lassiter supplied 14 points, while Cabagnot and Arwind Santos chipped in 13 markers apiece, with the former shooting just 5-of-19 from the field.
The Beermen played in the second half without star point guard Chris Ross due to a hurt thigh. The 6-foot-2 hustler only played for 16 minutes and five seconds, and finished with six points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
The Gin Kings will look to even the series at two games apiece on Game Four this Thursday, March 15, 7:00pm, still at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ginebra 95 — J. Aguilar 25, Tenorio 18, Caperal 12, Cruz 12, Devance 11, Thompson 9, Mercado 8, Ferrer 0, Manuel 0.
San Miguel 87 — Fajardo 23, Lassiter 14, Cabagnot 13, Santos 13, Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Ross 6, Lanete 5, Heruela 3, Espinas 2, De Ocampo 0, Mamaril 0, Pessumal 0.
Quarterscores: 19-15, 45-39, 79-65, 95-87.