Barangay Ginebra San Miguel wants to play with more sense of urgency this time as it aims to put TNT on a deep hole and take a commanding 3-0 lead Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is once again slated at 6 p.m. with the Kings buoyed by their close-shave victories in the first two games, including Wednesday’s 92-90 decision inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
Scottie Thompson continued his knack for delivering in the clutch, hitting a corner three with 30.5 seconds left that put Ginebra up for good and eventually dealt another frustrating loss to TNT, which led by 15 in the third and seven in the fourth.
But Ginebra coach Tim Cone knows through experience that claiming the first two games of a championship series is no guarantee that hoisting the trophy at the end is already moot and academic.
It happened twice in Cone’s illustrious career, the first in the 1990 First Conference when Alaska lost to Purefoods in five games after taking a 2-0 lead.
The other happened in the 2002 Governors’ Cup with Alaska once again winning the first two games against Purefoods, only for the TJ Hotdogs to come back and capture the title in the deciding Game 7.
“We’re thankful to win (Game 2), but we didn’t play well,” Cone said after Game 2. “Just like in Game 1, I felt that we could have played a lot better and we were thankful to win that one. We felt a little bit lucky.
“We were down all game long going into the last three or four minutes of the game. So there’s not a whole lot to pump your chest and say ‘Wow, we’re so much better. Look at us, we’re up 2-0.’ We can’t say that. I mean, these games could have gone either way. That means, this series could turn on a dime.
“A 2-0 lead means nothing with a team like TNT and I honestly truly feel that from the bottom of my heart,” added Cone. “The game was separated by big-time shots. We made them, they didn’t. So how can we be comfortable at this point, knowing that they dominated us pretty much in the first two games and we were able to win.”
Cone described TNT as a team that played with vigor despite missing Ray Parks Jr. to a calf injury as RR Pogoy picked up the scoring slack to produce 38 points.
At the same time, some of Ginebra’s main men, namely Thompson, LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar were struggling and had to get valuable contributions from Stanley Pringle, Aljon Mariano and veteran reserves Jared Dillinger and Jeff Chan in order to give themselves a chance to win.
Despite another heroic performance, Thompson along with Tenorio and Aguilar are out to atone for their inconsistent play in order for Ginebra to come out as winners while TNT is unsure if Parks will be able to suit up in hopes of reviving its title chances.