Ginebra drew first blood by taking the series opener, 127-99, as San Miguel never led the entire contest. In Game 2, San Miguel rebounded with a 134-109 decision, reversing the tables on Ginebra which trailed the whole way.
Austria says it’s far from over
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Coming off back-to-back blowout wins, San Miguel coach Leo Austria cautioned the Beermen not to be complacent with a 2-1 series lead over Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-7 Finals and said it’s far from finished, entering Game 4 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.

Ginebra drew first blood by taking the series opener, 127-99, as San Miguel never led the entire contest. In Game 2, San Miguel rebounded with a 134-109 decision, reversing the tables on Ginebra which trailed the whole way. Then, in Game 3 last Wednesday, San Miguel broke out from a two-point halftime lead to crush Ginebra, 132-94. From scoring less than 100 points in Game 1, San Miguel has averaged 133 points in the next two outings to put to question the consistency of Ginebra’s defense.

Clearly, what’s hurting Ginebra is Japeth Aguilar’s sub-par performance because of a foot injury. He’s trying to contribute but his inability to defend the four or three spot has resulted in San Miguel exploiting his virtual absence. Aguilar is averaging only 2.3 points in the Finals off the bench.

Despite two straight romps, Austria said he’s not taking it easy. “If we have the opportunity (to end it in five), why not but it’s far from over,” said Austria. “We’re thinking of one game at a time.” If San Miguel wins Game 4 tonight, the Beermen will open a commanding 3-1 lead and get a chance to close out in Game 5 on Sunday.

Austria admitted that in Game 1, San Miguel was surprised and caught off-guard by Ginebra’s strategy. “They outplayed and outhustled us from start to finish,” he said. “Ginebra came out really prepared and determined to win. Their field goal percentage was too high at 61 percent against our 39 percent. (Justin) Brownlee was unstoppable on 17 of 19 from the field and their three-point shooting was really high at 13 of 25.”

Game 2 was the complete opposite. “It was totally a different story and a 100 percent turnaround,” said Austria. “We were able to adjust very well with our gameplan. The energy and effort were at a high level and everybody was so focused in wanting to level the series. Game 3 was crucial because the series was reduced to a best-of-5. The way I look at it, nobody has the advantage in matchups.”

Austria said Aguilar’s condition and Joe De Vance’s fourth foul in the second half disrupted coach Tim Cone’s rotation in Game 3. “It was a tight battle in the first half where we led by only two,” he said. “I thought it would be another dominant game by Brownlee because of his good start. But the third quarter was pivotal for us. We scored 39 points due to our tight defense and we forced them to commit mistakes that led to fastbreak points for us. Japeth’s playing hurt and that’s why his performance is below par. We just took advantage of the situation and we continued stepping on the gas until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Our guards also did a good job of containing their backcourt.”

San Miguel dominated the boards, 55-38 and had more second chance points, 32-10 on the power of a 20-8 edge in offensive rebounds. Ginebra compiled 21 turnovers to San Miguel’s 11, leading to the Beermen gaining more possessions which resulted in 101 field goal attempts to only 74 by the Barangay. San Miguel hit 14 triples to Ginebra’s eight. Six Beermen scored in double figures while only Brownlee and Mark Caguioa finished in twin digits for Ginebra.

FINALS GINEBRA GIN KINGS LEO AUSTRIA PBA COMMISSIONER'S CUP SAN MIGUEL BEER
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