A step away from its familiar place in the Finals, Barangay Ginebra aims to avoid any complications in its title bid when it goes for the finishing blow against Magnolia in Game 4 of their best-of-five semifinals series in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Area on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Head coach Tim Cone wants the Kings to go all-out and leave nothing to chance against the Hotshots in the 3 p.m. encounter which also comes before the second game at 5:45 p.m. where the Bay Area Dragons will also take their second shot at eliminating the defending champions San Miguel Beermen.
The semis edition of the fabled Manila Clasico rivalry was nothing but a dogfight in the first two games before Paul Lee’s limited minutes robbed the fans of another anticipated nail-biting encounter in the third game which the Kings won convincingly, 103-80.
Cone emphasized how the absence of one key player from either side could completely change the complexion of the series. Lee was feeling under the weather and played for only three minutes – a huge blow which seemingly took the wind out the Hotshots’s sails in Game 3.
“We're gonna try our best, that's for sure you don't want to go on a Game 5 continually things to happen. Look at what happened to Paul Lee today, he got injured. We're just hoping that something like that won't happen (to us) in Game 5 and all of a sudden you are trying to scramble just like with what happened to them today. Luckily for them, this time, it wasn't a Game 5, it was a Game 3 so they still have a shot to come back,” explained Cone.
“We want to go out and put all our eggs in one basket in Game 4 if we can. It's hard, we won the first game, they won the second, we won the third, what normally happens in the fourth, so that's something we have to try to overcome,” he added.
With Lee’s status still in question, a lot is expected from the likes of Jio Jalalon and Mark Barroca in running the backcourt while Calvin Abueva and Nick Rakocevic also need to assert themselves in offense to make up for the 22.5 points per game they will be missing in case Lee sees limited minutes once more.
Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Jamie Malonzo, however, would have none of that as they hope to make a return trip to the Finals since the Governors’ Cup of last season.
Meanwhile in the second game, the Dragons hope to foil any ‘Beeracle’ hopes from the Beermen when they try to close out the series in their second try
Bay Area looked poised to repeat its Game 1 comeback in Game 3 and march on to the PBA Finals if not for the heroics from SMB’s Simon Enciso and import Devon Scott in the waning minutes.
Health could also be a problem for the Dragons however after agile forward Zhu Songwei failed to finish Game 3 due to an ankle injury. June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez and Terrence Romeo, on the other hand, are also eager to deliver as they try to author another improbable comeback from a 0-2 deficit.