By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings try to put the finishing touches on their assault on the PBA Philippine Cup title in Game Five of their best-of-seven finals series with the TNT Tropang Giga on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena in Pampanga.
Currently holding a commanding 3-1 series lead, Barangay Ginebra goes for the jugular in the scheduled 6 p.m. game that would put it on top of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Filipino tournament summit anew after more than a decade.
The Kings thrust themselves on the cusp of winning the title following their steady performance in Game Four on Sunday, where they came out a 98-88 victor over the Tropang Giga.
Banking on its depth and collective experience in big games, Barangay Ginebra had firm control of the previous game, even if TNT made a strong late push to claim the victory.
LA Tenorio led the thorough attack of the Kings, finishing with 22 points, including two clutch triples late in the contest that frustrated attempts by the Tropang Giga of completing a charge back. He also had six rebounds and three steals.
Athletic big man Japeth Aguilar also had 22 points for the Kings while peppering it with nine rebounds and two blocks.
Stanley Pringle finished with 16 points while do-it-all Scottie Thompson had a near triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
“I felt we played our best game of the whole bubble tonight. We hit big shots all night and we made defensive plays. I hope we can carry it over for Wednesday,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone of their Game Four victory.
For Mr. Tenorio, who is looking to win his first-ever Philippine Cup title, their job is not yet done and that despite holding a commanding series lead they cannot let their guard down.
“Closing a series is the hardest. I’ve been in these situations in my career and I know teams are still capable of coming back from such a deficit, especially with a kind of team like TNT. They are going to adjust and it’s going to be hard. But if we will have it our way, we don’t want to give them another chance because it will be harder for us if they get back in this series,” said the veteran Kings floor general.
The last time Barangay Ginebra won the Philippine Cup title was back in the 2006-07 season when it was still being coached by Jong Uichico.
The Kings defeated the San Miguel Beermen, 4-2, in their best-of-seven finals series. Now-retired Jayjay Helterbrand was the finals most valuable player.
Long-time Barangay Ginebra player Mark Caguioa is the only remaining player from that championship team still part of the Kings this year.
Meanwhile, despite recognizing that it is going to be an uphill battle for them from here on, the Tropang Giga are still not giving up.
They have been competing throughout the series, notwithstanding the absence of key cog Ray Parks Jr. because of calf injury in their last three games.
Compounding their woes, veteran Jayson Castro was not able to finish their last game after reaggravating a knee injury. His status for Game Five is still uncertain as of this writing.
Stepping up big time for TNT is Roger Pogoy, who is averaging 27.2 points in the series, including an explosive 34-point output in the last game.