‘It’s a long series’

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
�It�s a long series�
Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra is challenged by Cliff Hodge of Meralco in Game 1 won by the Gin Kings last Friday.

Ginebra, SMB seek 2-0 leads in best-of-seven

MANILA, Philippines — It’s good to land the first blow on a resilient rival. But for San Miguel Beer and Ginebra, it wouldn’t really mean much in the greater scheme of things if they couldn’t follow through.

“The bottom line is it’s a Game 1. It’s a long series and there’s a lot of games ahead of us,” coach Tim Cone said after the Gin Kings fended off Meralco, 92-88, in Friday’s opener of their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.

“It’s just nice to get the first one out of the way, as it always is. In a series, you have to get that one so you put the other team on a reactive basis. But it’s just one game and we got a lot of games to play.”

The old rivals duke it out a second time at 3 p.m. today at the Mall of Asia Arena, where the series could go 2-0 for the Gin Kings or be reduced to a virtual best-of-five affair with an equalizer by the Bolts.

Defending champion SMB seeks to make it back-to-back against the no-quit young guns of Rain or Shine in Game 2 of their side of the Final Four at 6:15 p.m.

Cone said Meralco is giving Ginebra new looks in their eighth playoffs matchup. This he accounted for the things introduced by Bolts consultant Nenad Vucinic.

“This is a familiar team with a different system with coach Nenad and we struggled with it at times. There are a lot of movements and their guards are quick to the rim so we had a hard time defending in stretches. Hopefully, we can get better and better as the series goes along,” he said.

Cone drew a vintage performance from veteran guard Stanley Pringle, who topscored with 22, including nine in the fourth, while playing out of position at the wing spot. Rookie Ralph Cu also contributed big time with 18 to ease the burden on Christian Standhardinger (14) and Scottie Thompson (five).

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