Home Sports Kings, in typical style, rally to trim Bolts for 3-2 lead

Kings, in typical style, rally to trim Bolts for 3-2 lead


Kings, in typical style, rally to trim Bolts for 3-2 lead

Christian Standhardinger (center) pops out a pass to an open teammate. —PBA IMAGES

From enduring the midweek misery in Cavite, Barangay Ginebra is suddenly feeling the excitement of being close to getting back to the PBA’s biggest stage.

And the way the Gin Kings won two in a row, capped by Sunday’s pivotal Game 5 of the Philippine Cup semifinals to the tune of 89-84 over the Meralco Bolts at Mall of Asia Arena is something coach Tim Cone takes pride in.

“We have battled through adversity,” Cone said. “We were really down to ourselves after going down 2-1 in the series. We played two great games after playing horrendous in Game 3.”

Doubly sweeter in taking a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series was Ginebra’s comeback from 15 points down behind a number of heroes anchored by Christian Standhardinger’s 34 points as Meralco couldn’t restore order in its favor.

Ginebra lost Game 3 in Dasmariñas, 87-80, that left Cone feeling “outplayed and outcoached,” before turning the corner with a series-tying 19-point rout last Friday.

And now Ginebra has two chances to close it out, first with Game 6 set on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

If Meralco finds a way to bounce back, that puts both teams in a challenging situation of traveling to San Jose, Batangas, for the decider on Friday evening.

Cone, though, didn’t mince words in his desire to get the job done at the mecca of Philippine sports instead of going through a lengthy travel down south.

“I’m sorry to the fans in Batangas, but if we don’t see them I’ll be very, very happy,” Cone said with a laugh.

Standhardinger knocked down crucial shots in the fourth, including consecutive midrange jumpers as Meralco was left dumbfounded. But it wasn’t the star big man alone who was key for the Gin Kings.

Maverick Ahanmisi, LA Tenorio and for brief moments David Murrell, were big as Ginebra overhauled a 59-44 deficit, which Meralco built following a second quarter surge led by Chris Banchero.

As Ginebra made its shots down the stretch, Meralco just couldn’t.

“We battled and battled and that’s what I’m proud about, having to fight through that adversity and finding a way to win,” said Cone. “And that’s basically playoff basketball, that’s the only way you win in the playoffs.”

There’s one exception in Cone’s mind, though.

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“Unless you’re San Miguel,” he said of the early Finals entrant. “San Miguel just walks on and beats anybody.” @jonasterradoINQ

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