Philippines sports'Underdog' Aces eye commanding 3-0 series lead


For coach Tim Cone, a reverse psychology of sort may just work wonders for his Alaska Aces against the San Miguel Beermen.

Up two games to none against the defending PBA Fiesta Cup champions in the best-of-seven Finals, Cone believes it wouldn’t hurt his team if it continues to approach the title series, beginning with Wednesday’s Game 3, with an underdog attitude.

“Somehow, we’re going to create a mindset that we’re down in this series, not up 2-0," said Cone. “We’re playing such a talented team that if we’re not vigilant, this series could turn on a dime."

Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history, is speaking through experience.

Alaska also led Talk ‘N Text, 2-0, in the 2008-09 Philippine Cup Finals, but blew the commanding lead and lost the series – and the title – in seven games.

The American coach knows a chance of it happening again is not impossible especially against a team as formidable as the San Miguel Beermen.

We’re expecting a greater response from SMB. So we need to be certain that we play at our tempo and keep focusing on the little things," said Cone.

Game time is at 7 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum as the embattled champions look for a breakthrough win and not allow themselves to be down 3-0 – a deficit that has yet to be overcome in the 35 years of the league.

We’re down, but not out," said SMB coach Siot Tanquingcen. “I can still see bright spots. Even if we’re playing poorly, we’re still very much in the game. However, we must exert more effort. They (Aces) are executing their system very well."

The series so far has been a closely-fought one, with the first two games being decided by an average margin of 5.5 points.

The Beermen actually had a chance of winning Game 2, but a big defensive stop by the Aces at crunch time allowed them to pull off a gripping 94-90 win.

The Aces also held San Miguel’s Gabe Freeman to just 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting and negating the trio of Arwind Santos, Jay Washington and Joseph Yeo to score a combined 20 points.

Freeman’s shooting woes came just a few nights after the back-to-back Fiesta Cup Best Import awardee exploded for 37 points in an 89-83 Game 1 loss.

For San Miguel to get back in the series, it also needs solid contributions from veteran Dondon Hontiveros who has scored just nine points in two games, including a point in the Game 2 loss. – JVP, GMANews.TV


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