SMB edges Ginebra in Game 3 for 2-1 finals lead
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Once again, a double-digit lead was erased.
Guard Chris Ross poured 24 points with 8 assists and 4 rebounds as the San Miguel Beermen climbed out of a 12-point hole to defeat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 99-88, in Game 3 of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday, March 1 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen, the more experienced reigning two-time champions, kept their sister team scoreless in the last 4 minutes of a crucial Game 3 as they went on a 12-0 run to close out the Gin Kings.
June Mar Fajardo added 17 points, 18 rebounds, and 3 blocks as the Beermen took a 2-1 series lead.
And although, per league statistician Fidel Mangonon III, 24 of 40 teams that prevailed in a Game 3 coming off a tie after the first two games in a finals series went on to win the championship, coach Leo Austria is nowhere near complacent with a one-game edge.
San Miguel, after all, knows best what it's like to overturn a 0-3 deficit after doing so a year ago to win the Philippine Cup title against Alaska.
"It's not safe because we know Tim Cone is a great coach, very smart. He can find ways," Austria said. "A lot of things can happen next game because they cannot afford to give us another win. Although there's a possibility that they can come back, 3-1 is still a big hole."
Alex Cabagnot posted 20 points as Marcio Lassiter added 16 markers and 6 boards in a game where San Miguel shot 21-of-29 from the stripe, compared to Ginebra's 5-of-11.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone was understandably disappointed with his team's endgame execution, especially after they looked to have permanently shifted momentum to their side on a booming Kevin Ferrer triple, 86-82, with 5:27 to go.
"Our A-minus game wasn't enough. We got to get it up to A-plus to beat this team. We didn't play well down the stretch," Cone said. "We'd like to pride ourselves on down-the-stretch basketball and we didn't do anything that we normally do down the stretch. They just beat us up."
The Gin Kings, who survived a grueling overtime Game 2 in Lucena City over the weekend, had playmaker LA Tenorio pacing them with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and two steals.
Rookie Ferrer finished with 15 points, 10 of which came in the payoff period. Japeth Aguilar chipped in 12 markers and 7 boards as Mark Caguioa added 11 points before a crowd of 16,773 people.
Forward Jervy Cruz, whom Cone tagged as one of the MVPs of Ginebra's 7-game semifinals against Star, sat out reportedly due to a shoulder injury.
Game 4 of this series is on Friday, March 3.
San Miguel (99): Ross 24, Cabagnot 20, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 16, Santos 9, Tubid 6, Reyes 3, Heruela 2, Espinas 2, Garcia 0.
Ginebra (88): Tenorio 16, Ferrer 15, Aguilar 12, Ellis 12, Caguioa 11, Thompson 8, Devance 6, Mercado 5, Marcelo 3, Helterbrand 0, Taha 0.
Quarter scores: 19-24, 44-49, 69-66, 99-88.