SURVIVAL for San Miguel Beer (SMB), momentum mode for Meralco.
That pretty much describes the situation both teams are in going to Wednesday’s Game 3 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors Cup best-of-five semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen have their one foot on the grave after absorbing a second straight loss in another devastating 121-103 rout on Sunday by the Gin Kings, nudging Barangay Ginebra to within a game of returning to the Finals.
And with the way they’ve been playing in their last two games, the Beermakers might just say goodbye to the season that saw them win the first conference and reach the semifinals of the second conference.
June Mar Fajardo being around could have made a difference as his absence due to a knee injury had hobbled San Miguel Beer’s campaign no end.
As Ginebra coach Tim Cone said it after Game 2: “It would be a lot different if June Mar were playing.”
June Mar has been the cornerstone in SMB seizing nine titles in 10 Finals appearances before suffering that injury in a recent Japan tournament.
Newly-installed SMB coach Jorge Gallent had done well in the eliminations and the quarters. But against Cone, he was sent back to review school.
Cone’s coaching pounced on the big hole left by the 6-foot-10 June Mar at the paint, obfuscating SMB’s defenses on quick ball movement and near-flawless ball-sharing that manufactured 35 assists alone in Ginebra’s blowout win on Sunday predicated on an 18-1 start.
“I’m shocked myself at the result,” Cone said.
There wouldn’t be any shock anymore if Ginebra proceeds to wrap it up in today’s 3 p.m. contest—except if San Miguel miraculously survives burial rites with a Game 3 win.
That’s a shock that could yet trigger a déjà vu.
Isn’t SMB the only team in league history to erase a 0-3 deficit and win a PBA crown in seven games?
As for Meralco, its 124-117 overtime win over the highly-favored TNT on Sunday for a 1-1 series deadlock has made Bolts coach Norman Black flash a wide grin again.
Why, because Black escaped disaster when TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson missed what could have been the winning free throw with six seconds left, sending a 112-tie to overtime.
In the five-minute extension, Black threw a brick wall defense that forced TNT to miss all its three tries behind the arc.
“We are playing the No. 1 seed team [TNT],” said Black. “It’s just their second loss this entire second conference.”
Aaron, Black’s talented son, complemented his father’s trust by firing six straight points that capped his career-tying 28 points, in the process giving a courageous support behind the massive 39 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals of Bolt import KJ McDaniels.
Dad couldn’t be prouder.
THAT’S IT I join the prayer brigade in begging for God’s mercy to grant grace to LA Tenorio, the legendary point guard of Barangay Ginebra, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. This is one big fight that LA could win with our Lord calling the shots from above. LA, lean on BTS: Believe, Trust & Surrender. Amen.