(Lucena City, Quezon)
6:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs San Miguel
(San Miguel leads series 1-0)
The San Miguel Beermen ruled out their myth of invincibility after crushing Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in embarrassing fashion as they eye a 2-0 lead tonight in the best-of-seven series for the PBA Philippine Cup title at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
San Miguel showcased its talent-laden lineup, much to the dismay of Ginebra fans last Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena when it rolled to a 109-82 victory, a performance that was credited to almost everyone coach Leo Austria inserted.
But Austria cautioned that the wire-to-wire win won’t necessarily be a sign of things to come in his return to his home province set at 6:30 p.m., especially after Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone seemed to have conceded defeat as early as the third quarter.
“Nasa second gameplan na siya which is Game 2. And I’m sure Game 2, they’ll come out stronger dahil makikita mo naman na alam niya na swerte kami,” said Austria, a native of Sariaya some 10 kilometers away from the playing venue.
Austria has been aware of criticisms of giving heavy minutes to his top players – namely June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos. But in Game 1, the two-time Coach of the Year was able to maximize his roster on the way to the rout.
Ronald Tubid torched his former team for two triples in the second quarter, Brian Heruela had quality minutes as Ross’ temporary backup guard with RR Garcia in sickbay, while forward Gabby Espinas, a vital player off the bench, scored all of his 16 points in the second half.
Their performances were able to give precious rest for the Beermen’s main guns, who had logged about 30-40 minutes per game during their seven-game semifinal series with TNT KaTropa.
Of course, that would have not been possible if not for the early onslaught sparked by Ross, whose play on both ends allowed San Miguel to take an 11-2 lead minutes after tipoff, a start that later went to a high of 36 in the second half.
Ross, who finished with 17 points, five rebounds and eight assists, expressed caution of a big Ginebra fightback in the southern part of Luzon.
“It’s a series, it’s just adjustments, and I’m sure they’ll make a lot of adjustments for Game 2,” said Ross.
Fajardo posted 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, showing no signs of flu that prompted him to miss practices leading up to Game 1, while showing why Ginebra will have plenty of trouble down low for the rest of the series.