June Mar Fajardo & Kobey Lam MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel defends against Kobey Lam of Bay Area. Photo by Ernie Sarmiento

Do or die for San Miguel, Magnolia

December 21, 2022 Robert Andaya 458 views

BAY Area and Barangay Ginebra look to deliver the knockout punch against their respective semifinal opponents and arrange a highly-anticipated title showdown in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Bay Area will take on San Miguel Beer, while Ginebra will battle Magnolia in a pair of best-of-five semifinal matches starting at 3 p.m.

Victories by the Dragons and the Gin Kings will put them on collision course for the championship of this season-enfing, import-flavored conference.

But beating the Beermen, who hold the most titles in league history, and the Hotshots are easier said than done.

“As long as we play hard, we play as a team both on offense and defense, defined ang roles ng mga players… we follow the gameplan, I think we’ll have a good chance of beating them (again),” said

San Miguel coach Leo Austria, whose team averted elimination with a dramatic 98-96 victory over the Dragons last Sunday.

Both Austria and June Mar Fajardo, who earned PBAPC-Cignal “Best Player of the Week” honor, admitted the Beermen still need more fine-tuning to hold theri own against the Dragons.

“It’s really tough for us because we know Bay Area is really well-coached and they’ve been together for the last eight months in one place so the camaraderie, the brotherhood is there,” added Austria.

“Do-or-die na ito para sa amin. So kung sino na lang susunod sa game plan and then kung sino ‘yung (mas) gustong manalo iyon ‘yung mananalo sa Game 4,” said Fajardo.

Devon Scott , who finished with a personal series best of 25 points 14 rebound in their previous game, is again expected to lead San Miguel, along with Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, Simon Enciso, Marcio Lassiter, Mo Tautua Vic Manuel and CJ Perez.

Andrew Nicholson, Hayden Blankley, Kobey Lam, Glenn Yang and 7-5 giant Liu Chuangxin will banner Bay Area, which swept the first two games. of the series.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone is also hoping the Gin Kings can close out the series against the Hotshots.

“A lot depends on Paul Lee,”.said Cone , referring to the Magnolia gunner who was limited to a little over two minutes of play in Game 3 due to a flu.

..“His absence took the wind off their sails. It’s hard to make in-game adjustments when you lose your star player. And he really has been their star. He’s really giving us fits. We can’t locate him and when we do, he finds somebody else. It’s been a really tough road for us trying to contain Paul,” explained Cone in an interview posted at the official PBA website.