Fajardo-less Beermen eye to extend semifinals series
Games On Wednesday(Smart Araneta Coliseum)3 p.m. — San Miguel vs Ginebra5:45 p.m. — Meralco vs TNT
CRIPPLED, wounded and all — San Miguel Beer (SMB) is not waving a white flag anytime soon with unfazed hopes of living another day in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.
Without six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo due to a knee injury, the Beermen suffered a free fall and are now at the edge of the cliff with a 0-2 slate in the race-to-three semis, against no less than their sibling rival and reigning champion Barangay Ginebra.
Another loss would push SMB to the exit doors of the Final Four for the second straight conference after winning the Philippine Cup last year and coach Jorge Gallent is in no business to entertain that possibility. “We have to think of Game 3 only. We have to win Game 3 and put our mindset that we’re not on vacation yet,” said the defiant mentor.
“Ginebra has to win three games to enter the finals and it’s only two. As long as there is a chance, it’s my job to put us into a position to get one (first) in Game 3.”
Getting that job done, however, will not be a walk in the park as the Beermen need to pull out all the stops to repel a searing Ginebra side after convincing victories in the first two matches, 121-112, 121-103 — if they wish to stay alive and force Game 4.
“We have to play with effort, we have to play with discipline, we have to play with patience. I have to motivate them these next two days. Our mindset should not be on vacation mode just yet. That’s the most important,” he said.
And while Ginebra amassed a massive advantage over SMB, Meralco and Talk ‘N Text are expecting a grittier dogfight in their own series that has been reduced to a best-of-three duel at 1-1 deadlock.
TNT drew first blood in rousing fashion, 110-80, but Meralco swung back in Game 2 behind a thrilling 124-117 overtime win.
“Every game is gonna be tough for us. Nothing’s going to be easy,” said Bolts coach Norman Black as they bid for their fifth Governors’ Cup finals appearance in the last six seasons at the expense of sister team TNT.
“This is the playoffs” said Tropang Giga coach Jojo Lastimosa after his wards, led by import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who’s fasting in observance of Ramadan, poured it all in the narrow defeat. — John Bryan Ulanday