MANILA---“Hopefully we play this same way on Wednesday. And I hope they (the Beermen) play the same way.”
Barangay Ginebra coach Jong Uichico hopes the observation he made Sunday will set the tone for the day when the Gin Kings try to level their best-of-five PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series with the San Miguel Beermen today at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra goes into the 5:30 p.m. game carrying the momentum of a 95-78 decision in Game 3 that prevented the Gin Kings from falling into a 0-3 hole, where no team has survived in the playoffs.
“We have a shot at it again (of getting back in the series),” Uichico said. “It’s a hard climb, but at least we have that shot of climbing back up.”
Defending champion Derby Ace and Talk ‘N Text break their 2-2 tie in their separate best-of-seven series later at 7:30 p.m.
Uichico and Ginebra are seeking to duplicate a 0-2 comeback against San Miguel four seasons ago.
And the Gin Kings seem capable of a second straight win as their winning margin in Game 3 almost doubled the 10 points combined which decided their first four meetings with the Beermen.
“Give credit to Ginebra,” San Miguel’s Ato Agustin said in Filipino Sunday night. “They (Kings) prepared really hard and they were very aggressive all game. We started out flat and couldn’t get anything going.
“We weren’t able to match their energy level tonight.”
The Gin Kings appeared relaxed while the Beermen played tight as Jay Washington and Dondon Hontiveros, San Miguel’s high-scoring threats, finished with just 13 points each after firing 29 apiece in Game 2.
Mark Caguioa and Willie Miller again shone, but it was Rudy Hatfield who again proved to be the difference.
On Sunday, Hatfield scored 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Miller accounted for 19 points, and Caguioa 17 and 12 rebounds to form a formidable three-pronged battering ram the Beermen never got to dodge.
Eric Menk announced his return to form with 12 points and seven boards in just 19 minutes after missing most of Ginebra’s games because of a leg injury.
Meanwhile, reigning MVP James Yap is bracing for an even tighter defensive blanket against the Tropang Texters after hurting Talk ‘N Text the most in a 98-93 series-equalizing Game 4 win.
“We are back. Now we have a chance to take the lead (in Game 5),” Yap, who shot 26 points, told reporters in Filipino.
“They will prepare harder for me. That’s why I hope that everyone steps up so that their defense gets confused.”