By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE BEST OF FIFA Philippine Basketball League Governors Cup Semifinal Series Between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok Hits Games four today with the main characters coming from different directions looking to see their respective moves through.
The defending champions Kings are out to level the series on two matches in their 7:00 match at Ynares Center in Antipolo City after breaking through the victory column of the series with a 107-103 Game Three victory on Wednesday while Hotshots tries to go to final play again to arrive at the final in the season-long PBA tournament.
With his back against the wall, Barangay Ginebra dug deep into Game Three to survive and extend the series.
They did it by bucking a rough one in the second quarter and increasing in the second half before they hung tough at the end.
With the bill attached to 103-all, Kings watched LA Tenorio's team, 105-103, with a basket of 14 seconds left in the match, enough a hole that turned out to bury Hotshots.
Barangay Ginebra was led by imports Justin Brownlee in 46 points, 19 rebounds and five assists.
Scottie Thompson had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Mr. Tenorio finished 14 points.
For Magnolia was Mark Barroca who showed the way with 19 points followed by Paul Lee with 17 and Ian Sangalang 16.
Magnolia imports Romeo Travis had only 12 points to follow with 10 boards.
Given that they pulled a bullet last time, Kingscoach Tim Cone could not help relieving a relief so that he gave credit to his players to never give up.
"It certainly looked gloomy in half-time. We did not really play it too anxiously to get it done individually. We really did not find NSD (never-say-death). It had been a long time ago by Sonny Jaworski and the big group of guys , but we are proud to represent NSD, "said Mr. Cone in the postgame press conference after their victory.
"It did not look like that [that we could come back] in half time but in some way we did and must give the players an incredibly high credit, "he added.
But the champion coach was quick to point out that they are not about to do and want to win everything.
"We are excited to live and kick but we are not here to just win a game. We must continue," said Cone.
For Hotshots, it was unfortunate to lose what was potentially the serial exit, but they are not completely down on themselves and think they still have a good position to succeed.
"We have to go through the needle's eyes, so to speak. We knew initially that this is not an easy series with Ginebra. We had our chance earlier but I guess it's for Ginebra and it deserved it because they played well" , said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who failed to quit Game Three after being thrown out of court to contact a game manager.
He said there is no point in living a lot about what was already done and that they should try to move on and focus on the next match.
"It's time to move on and focus our attention on Game Four. We look at it as another do-or-die match." Mentally, we must be ready. "It's very important, says Mr. Victolero.