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PBA: Ginebra Kings out to dethrone Beermen

By Jonas Terrado

Game Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs San Miguel
(Ginebra leads series 3-2)

Barangay Ginebra's Justin Browlee against San Miguel Beermen's Renaldo Balkman August 05, 2018, Game 5 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup at Smart Araneta  Coliseum, Quezon City. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu)

Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Browlee against San Miguel Beermen’s Renaldo Balkman August 05, 2018, Game 5 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu)

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is hell bent on not giving defending champion San Miguel Beer a lifeline as it seeks to win the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown tonight in Game 6 of their best-of-seven Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Two straight wins, including Game 5 which was the closest game of the series, have put the crowd favorites on the cusp an 11th title but import Justin Bronwlee urged his teammates to play their A-game in the potential clincher set at 7 p.m.

“I think we have to play the game of our lives, especially having to go up against the defending champions which is SMB tonight,” the Best Import of the Conference said. “But we’ve expect that, just what we’ve expect the whole series. And hopefully on Wednesday, we can close it out.”

LA Tenorio once again harped on playing a do-or-die mentality, given San Miguel’s experience of overcoming obstacles during its run of six championships in the last three seasons.

“We cannot give them a chance to play a Game 7 because it’s very difficult facing San Miguel,” Tenorio said.

For San Miguel’s Arwind Santos and import Renaldo Balkman, the series is far from over.

Santos, the undisputed villain among the eyes of the Ginebra faithful, is determined to play as if the Grinch is out to spoil Christmas.

“Sabi nga ng bawat isa sa amin, yung 0-3 nga naka-survived kami, ito pang isang panalo lang, di ba?” said Santos, a comment that may lit more fuel to the fire of the Ginebra supporters.

Balkman was even more defiant.

“It’s do-or-die, but they haven’t beaten us yet. And till that happens, we still got a chance,” he said. “We got to win two in a row. No matter what happens, we got to win two in a row.”

Ginebra claimed Sunday’s fifth game with an 87-83 win, as Scottie Thompson played the hero’s role and San Miguel suffered a rare collapse after leading by five points with over five minutes remaining.

Thompson, Tenorio and Greg Slaughter, three potential winners of the Finals MVP if Ginebra can complete its mission, hope to provide more support for Brownlee anew with Japeth Aguilar eager to make his presence felt on both ends.

“I always say that closeout games are hardest ones to win,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “I think they’re harder to win than Game 7s, because the ferocity of the other team, they’re trying to stay alive.”

Ferocity is something San Miguel looks to rediscover, along with seeing its main weapons like Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Santos and Marcio Lassiter make their presence felt after struggling in the last two defeats.

Best Player of the Conference winner June Mar Fajardo is eager to redeem himself after his two missed free throws denied San Miguel a breather while opening the door for Ginebra to complete its Houdini act.

“We need to win two games to defend our title and we’re capable because we beat them in Game 2 and Game 3,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria. “They beat us two in a row, might be our turn to have another two in a row.”