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Ginebra goes for the kill

Head coach Tim Cone doesn’t like the idea of seeing Barangay Ginebra play the Magnolia in a do-or-die Game 5 in their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series.

Not that Cone doubts whether the Gin Kings can get the job done against the Hotshots.

It’s just that once a series goes the full route, everything is possible, Cone said.

“We’re a veteran team and (import) Justin (Brownlee) knows that. We know we have to come out and be better next game. Obviously, we don’t want to go to a Game 5. So many things can happen in Game 5, so we have to come out and see what we can do in Game 4,” Cone said.

So, when Ginebra troops to the court at 3 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena, it will be treating Game 4 as though it is a do-or-die.

History appears to be on Ginebra’s side.

In six tours of duty for the team, Brownlee, a two-time league MVP, the Gin Kings went on to win five championships.

Ginebra is also heading into today’s crucial matchup oozing with confidence as it won two of the last four league crowns.

Ginebra took the series 2-1 lead after pouncing on a Magnolia team minus Paul Lee, who only played two minutes as he was under the weather.

“It doesn’t give you pogi points going to the next game,” said Cone after his team ran roughshod over the Hotshots, 103-80.

For the Hotshots, it’s all about survival.

They’ve been in the Final Four for four straight conferences and were able to crack the finals in last year’s Philippine Cup.

Taking center stage in the main game is Bay Area, the invading guest squad, which had gone on to move a win away from making it to the finals.

Bay Area leads the series, 2-1, but lost a tough one against San Miguel, 98-96, in Game 3, preventing the Hong Kong-based team from scoring a sweep of their race-to-three series.

The Dragons were 36 minutes away from advancing to the finals after pinning the Beermen on the ropes, but the proud defending champions and the winningest team in PBA history fought back and found the resolve to win to stay alive.

In Game 3, the Beermen regrouped and welcomed the return of head coach Leo Austria, who was on leave and missed several games in the latter stretch of the elimination round and the most part of the playoffs after he was placed under health and safety protocols.

Austria returned not just physically ready, but also mentally, as he brought his championship experience and rallied the Beermen to come up with a more energized game, particularly in the second half.

With Devon Scott coming away with a big bounce back performance, six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo got plenty of help up front as the Beermen were able to hold their own against the giants of the Dragons led by National Basketball Association veteran Andrew Nicholson, 7-foot-5 Liu Chuanxing and stretch big Zu Songwei, who had to be taken out of the game in the late stretch due to an ankle injury.

Cholo Villanueva, the Filipino coach, a part of the Dragons’ coaching staff, informed Daily Tribune that Zu will be a game time decision.

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