Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beermen nip Gin Kings, move closer to PBA finals

San Miguel outlasted Barangay Ginebra in double overtime, 108-104, and moved on the verge of making the PBA Philippine Cup Finals Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

Jay Washington had a career-high 20 rebounds and 19 points, while Alex Cabagnot finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists in an all-around showing for the Beermen, who now lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, following the grind-out win in Game Four. 

The Beermen opened the second extra period with seven unanswered points for a 106-99 lead, before holding off a late comeback by the Kings to seal the deal.

Another victory against the embattled Kings on Friday will have the Beermen advancing to their 32nd stint in the championship round.

Rookie coach Ato Agustin expressed his intention to finish off the Kings.

“Pag ganito ang nilalaro ng mga players, malamang na papasok na kami sa Finals," he said in the post-game interview. “There were signs na mananalo kami. They missed crucial free throws and then we made stops."

For the record, only two teams in the 36 years of Asia’s pioneering pro league were able to come back from a 1-3 deficit and win a series.

Ginebra was one of them, initially doing the feat in the 1991 First Conference Finals against Shell. Purefoods later duplicated the feat at the expense of Alaska in the 2006 Philippine Cup semifinals.

Jong Uichico admitted Ginebra could have won the game outright in regulation.

“I thought we should have won in regulation," he said. “If games are this close, the players will have to make the plays."

Danny Ildefonso sent the game into overtime at 94-94 following an unmolested shot with 12.6 second left in regulation. Mark Caguioa got away from Dondon Hontiveros, but missed a driving lay-up with two seconds left for the first overtime period.

Again the Kings had a shot at a possible win, but Jay-Jay Helterbrand missed two important free throws with 1:06 remaining that could have put Ginebra on top. The second overtime ended at 99-99.

The Beermen then summoned their remaining strength and delivered the most crucial run of the night by outscoring the Kings, 7-0, to start the second extra period.

The closest Ginebra could get was at 102-106 on a three-pointer by Willie Miller with 1:38 left to play, but veteran Olsen Racela, seeing action in his 918th game, clinched the win for the Beermen by sinking two free throws for the final count.

Ronald Tubid finished with a personal conference-best of 28 points, while Enrico Villanueva added 19 for the Kings. - KY, RCJ, GMANews.TV

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