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Kings eye 2-0 lead

By Jonas Terrado

Game Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs San Miguel
(Ginebra leads series 1-0)

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel aims to make it two in a row over defending champion San Miguel Beer and move halfway closer toward winning the crown tonight in Game 2 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Attention will be on whether Best Import candidate Justin Brownlee can continue his hot shooting in the 6:30 p.m. match after erupting for 42 points on 17-of-19 shooting in Ginebra’s 127-99 win two nights ago at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But knowing that Game 1 also serves as an opening act in the best-of-seven affair, Ginebra coach Tim Cone is bracing for a big fightback by the Beermen.

“We haven’t won a series yet, we haven’t even won a second game yet,” said Cone. “Another thing we always say is a 30-point loss is the same as a one-point loss in the playoffs. You still go down 1-0 or 2-0 or whatever.

“San Miguel knows that and I think they’re just gonna put this away and come out with great force on Sunday,” added Cone.

San Miguel counterpart Leo Austria will try to map out new ways to play better after allowing Ginebra to shoot 61 percent from the field while the Beermen could only make 29 percent of their shots from three-point land.

History favors the Beermen, who went on to win the title despite losing Game 1 in four of the six previous finals they appeared on under Austria.

“Good thing this is a best-of-seven. Even if we lose by 40 or 50, this just one game,” Austria said. “We have to move forward and we have to adjust next game because all the players of Ginebra are really focused.”

And Austria added that he will need to find a gambit to outwit his coaching idol and force a split of the first two games.
“The grandmaster really moves well, coach Tim knows what to do,” he added.

Cone will also bank on his main weapons Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar while hoping to get significant contributions from Joe Devance, Mark Caguioa, Jeff Chan and Sol Mercado.

Austria hopes to get more from Renaldo Balkman, also in consideration for the Best Import plum, June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and rookie Christian Standhardinger.

Standhardinger delivered his best performance since making his PBA debut last May with 26 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal in a losing effort. a performance Austria believes can translate into a positive effect for his team.