A rainy Sunday evening saw an unexpected game day at the Mall of Asia Arena, wherein both games went to double overtime extensions. And while everyone thought the defending champions had the main game in the bag, San Miguel crumbled and lost their grip on a frantic Ginebra resurgence. The good thing, however, is that they had the final hurrah.
The Beermen made it rain early, surpassing their average makes of ten from downtown in the first half alone to propel them to a double-digit spread. However, for Coach Leo Austria, Ginebra weren’t going anywhere.
A 17-2 run in the middle of the third quarter erased a 24-point lead built by the Beermen. As the anxious Ginebra crowd rose from their 2 ½ quarter silence, Austria’s crew sucked wind as they saw their seemingly-comfortable lead vanish little by little.
“Alam naman natin na pag Ginebra at sister teams, lahat ng players pumped up. Walang kapa-kapatid talaga,” he said.
As 48 minutes proved to be insufficient to settle this joust between the sister teams, Austria applauded the resilience of the Beermen down the stretch. In regulation, they lost Gary David in the first period due to a bad fall after a three-point attempt, and Chris Ross after tripping in the game.
“Malakas pa rin tibok ng puso ko,” said the relieved Austria.
“Mabuti na lang Alex(Cabagnot) is in top shape at natapos. The last two extensions, wala na kaming palitan buti yung players namin talagang in top shape.”
For a second time in the game, Ginebra used their “Never Say Die” spirit in the first overtime and erased SMB’s nine-point surge. Triples fell their way at the right time, including a 2OT-delivering three by Japeth Aguilar.
“Nung first overtime, up kami pero nag relax sila. Very clear yung instruction ko na kung maaari, two points lang ibigay.”
But the 58-minute match went the way of the Beermen, who used every bit of what was left in the tank. The team came up as winners in a huge game to avoid scrambling for position in the team standings of the short elimination round.
“Wala akong masabi sa mga players na to. Both teams talaga ginawa nila lahat para manalo.
“We knew from the start na huge game kasi Ginebra was eyeing for their fifth win tapos kami naman ayaw namin ma left behind sa Top 4,” Austria added.
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