By REYNALD MAGALLON
Barangay Ginebra is set to go for the title clincher against Bay Area in Game 6 of their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
The Kings can bag their 15th PBA crown and head coach Tim Cone’s 25th title against the Dragons in the 5:45 p.m. encounter seen to draw another mammoth crowd with tickets getting sold out as early as Monday, Jan. 9.
Easier said than done, however, with Ginebra facing up against a Bay Area side which has shown incredible resilience in the last two games despite the absence of some of its key players in import Andrew Nicholson and starting point guard Glen Yang.
Expected to just roll over and die in Game 4, the Dragons showed grit and grinded out a victory almost no one expected to level the series at 2-2.
They almost completed another one in Game 5 with Hayden Blankley and Kobey Lam leading the charge in the huge fourth quarter flurry before it was doused by the heroics of Stanley Pringle whose back-to-back triples down the stretch slammed the door on Bay Area’s comeback hopes.
Such a team, with so much fight in them, is what makes closing out the series difficult especially now that their backs are against the wall and with Myles Powell set for a return in Game 6.
Powell hasn’t seen action for Bay Area since the end of the eliminations after sustaining an ankle injury in practice but was reactivated by the Dragons in time for their do-or-die game.
The high-scoring who is averaging 37.24 points, 8.38 rebounds and three assists through eight games will now be the Dragons import the rest of the way if they manage to force a winner-take-all Game 7, according to the league rules.
It is surely an added challenge for Cone and the rest of the Kings especially with the Dragons still undefeated when Powell is playing as their reinforcement. Bay Area’s move also put more pressure on Ginebra’s backcourt defense who obviously took a hit following the groin injury LA Tenorio sustained late in the first half in Game 5.
The Kings though are certainly bringing in their killer instincts with Best Import Justin Brownlee spearheading the attack along with Game 5 hero in Pringle, Best Player of the Conference Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger.