Top seeds Beermen, Texters eye to break series tie with semis foes
You can’t blame Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio for being in Cloud 9 right now.
The Llamados’ PBA Fiesta Cup semifinals series with the San Miguel Beermen is just heating up, having wrapped up Game 2 Friday night and the best-of-seven affair tied at 1-1.
Derby Ace made all that possible, rallying back from as much as an 18-point deficit before riding import Tony Washam’s shoulders in the stretch to eke out a thrilling 95-94 win.
Gregorio certainly savors the moment.
“The best thing about the (Game 2) victory was knowing that we could beat the awesome Beermen. It truly gave us a huge psychological lift," he said.
The Llamados definitely bring with them that `psychological lift’ when Game 3 of the series, which Gregorio referred to as critical, is played Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
“We have to make sure that we are ready for their adjustments," said Gregorio.
But San Miguel counterpart Siot Tanquingcen downplayed the setback, stressing one glaring statistic as the main reason for the unexpected meltdown of the reigning champion.
“Everything is just back to square one. But we need to take care of the ball better. We can’t turn the ball over 26 times like last game and expect to win," he said.
The last of those turnovers came in the Beermen’s final possession with 7.9 seconds, a few moments after Washam completed a three-point play off Gabe Freeman’s sixth and final foul to put the Llamados in front, 95-94.
Veteran forward Danny Seigle was stripped of the ball by Washam, who helped out and doubled team the Beerman just as he tried to maneuver his way to the basket against Marc Pingris.
“This is turning out to be a classis series," said Gregorio. “Highly charged and full of emotions. But we cannot be emotional at all times. We have to keep our emotions in check and play intelligently."
The other semifinals series between top seed Talk `N Text and Alaska is also beginning to have some emotion in the light of the Tropang Texters’ 100-94 Game 2 win to likewise level the series at 1-1.
Talk `N Text coach Chot Reyes, as always, said he’s ready whatever new things the Aces will bring on the table.
“We made our adjustments so I’m sure Tim (Cone) will make his. We need to be ready to counter," said Reyes.
The Tropang Texters pulled off the win even in the absence of top scorer MacMac
Cardona, who got married to long-time girlfriend Clarissa Francisco.
Without Cardona, Jimmy Alapag took over for the franchise, pouring in 25 points in the second half, including 12 in a 22-10 run that erased a 52-44 deficit and gave Talk `N Text a 66-62 lead.
Alaska coach Tim Cone admitted the Aces got a little bit cozy in the second half when the Tropang Texters made their game-turning run.
“Coming from our first game win, Game 2 got a little too easy for us through the first half, and then we lost discipline starting the second half and the game got real hard," said Cone. “If we allow them to play to their considerable talent, then we’ll continue to be in trouble.
“But our guys have a firm grip of what they need to do to win so they’ll be ready for Game Three." – JVP, GMANews.TV
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