Duel for vital 3-2 lead

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Duel for vital 3-2 lead
Determination is on the faces of SMB’s June Mar Fajardo and Meralco’s Brandon Bates and Bong Quintoina rebound play during Game 4. the Beermen tied the series at 2-2 on a 111-101 win Wednesday.
Russell Palma

Beermen, Bolts vow to leave everything on the floor

MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion San Miguel Beer and challenger Meralco declared readiness to go the extra mile as they continue rumbling for the coveted PBA Philippine Cup crown.

It’s been a slugfest of a best-of-seven series with the Bolts grabbing the lead twice with victories in Games 1 and 3, 93-86 and 93-89, and the Beermen countering each time, 95-94 in Game 2 and 111-101 in Game 4, to pull even.

If Meralco would have its way, this alternating trend should continue in tonight’s fifth game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to position itself to within a win away from its franchise milestone.

But SMB would rather alter the direction the entanglement had been taking so far, seize the first back-to-back win in the 7:30 p.m. tiff and get on the hill.

“It’s a (virtual) best-of-three. It’s going to come down to who’s playing better basketball at the right time,” said Meralco heart and soul Chris Newsome, whose career-high 40 points went to waste as his squad failed to collar a commanding 3-1 upperhand on Independence Day.

“It’s a tough loss for us but that’s why we got the win last game so we could have that (2-1) advantage. Now, it’s back to square one and it’s our turn to punch back. We got a day of rest and then we’re back at it on Friday. It’s going to be a grind-out for the rest of the series. We’re going to have the energy, we’re going to refocus, stay focused and get back to playing Meralco basketball.”

SMB counterpart Jorge Gallent said if his troops would continue what they started in the Game 4 equalizer, where they finally breached the 100-point mark and limited Meralco’s shot volume, they should be fine.

“We talked about trusting one another and sharing the ball. If we do that, our offense will come,” said Gallent, who got major contributions from series debutants Vic Manuel and Terrence Romeo as 10-time Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo and gunners CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter produced their usual numbers in making it 2-2.

Gallent also took note how SMB’s improved efforts in rebounding and defending prevented Meralco from gaining 16 extra shots like before.

Bolts counterpart Luigi Trillo also feels SMB’s ramped-up energy level was a key factor last time.

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