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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

SMB eyes 3-0 lead; Ginebra aims to stay alive

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WILL it be a series or will be an easier path to the finals for defending champion San Miguel Beer?

The Beermen certainly hope it’s the latter as they look to move a step closer to the big stage yet again, aiming for a huge 3-0 lead over Barangay Ginebra in their best-of-seven semifinal affair in the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup.

Game 3 is slated today at 7 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, where it is a virtual do-or-die for the Gin Kings as they hope to get back in the thick of things and avoid a 0-3 whole in which their foes are the only ones who had ever come back from.

After stealing Game 2, the four-peat seeking Beermen are now in a position to close in on yet another finals’ stint.

San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria pointed out the advantage that his squad has now, but is also wary about the never-say-die mantra of the Gin Kings.

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“2-0 is a good lead to have but we all know Baranagay Ginebra can always comeback,” said Austria. “That’s why there’s no time for us to relax and we need to continue doing our best against them.”

San Miguel Beer showed its great and championship character when it came all the way back from 15 points down to shock Ginebra in overtime, 104-102, Sunday night in Game 2 after a game-winning putback by Marcio Lassiter.

Once again, aside from Lassiter’s heroics, the Beermen banked on their money man June Mar Fajardo, who scored a game-high 33 points and their championship pedigree when it mattered to came through.

While Ginebra is staring at a significant hole already, not all is lost for the crowd darlings.

Prince Caperal had a career night in Game 2, shocking everyone with a career-high 26 points and his contribution is now expected by Ginebra coach Tim Cone.

At the same time, star big man Greg Slaughter is expected to finally play and make his series debut after missing Ginebra’s last couple of games with an ankle injury.

His timely return might be what Ginebra needs to turn things around in this critical time in its campaign.

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