Mar 25, 2023

Ginebra determined to push San Miguel on the brink

BARANGAY Ginebra has presented San Miguel Beer with one big problem at the start of their PBA Governors' Cup semifinals duel.

The Gin Kings intend to come out with more consistency and thus compound the Beermen's concerns even more when they clash anew Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Coach Jorge Gallent and his charges are sure to come out with more purpose to avoid falling into a 0-2 hole. But they must first be able to solve one major flaw in their defense, which is containing Christian Standhardinger.

Mainly with Standhardinger virtually unstoppable in the shaded lanes that freed up the likes of Jamie Malonzo for outside shots, Ginebra came away with a 121-112 victory at the start of the best-of-five series just last Friday.

Standhardinger's outstanding performance prompted coach Tim Cone to veritably described the Fil-German center as the Kings' lynchpin in their bid for a second straight title and fifth overall in the season-ending tourney.

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"Christian's just been playing great. He's been making the right reads, making the right rolls for his teammates. Because of that it opens up the perimeter for us and Jamie and Justin (Brownlee) and Scottie (Thompson) were able to get their shots," said Cone.

"No doubt about it, he's been the catalyst this whole conference and we play through him at this point," Cone also said before pointing out a lot of work still remains for them.

"We won the game, so I guess we played well overall," said Cone. "But there were some bad stretches when we didn't play well, played a little flat."

"You never can count them out," warned Standhardinger following a 33-point, 10-rebound performance in Game 1. "So I think that's the big lesson that we need to get out of it and that is to keep pushing and keep playing the best defense we can play."

Main reason why Cone and Standhardinger remain wary is the way with which SMB clawed its way back after trailing by as many as 21 points in the third quarter. Highlight of said surge was a 15-0 salvo unleashed by the Beermen not even three minutes into the fourth period that drew them level at 95.

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Good thing Malonzo drilled in a triple and Standhardinger strung up four points to pull the Kings away anew before their teammates joined in to keep their foes at bay.

Still, Cone was obviously left short of being totally pleased with the outing. "As Christian said, we need to try to figure that one out and make sure it doesn't happen to us again," he stated.

"This team is too good. If it was an even game and you lose your concentration... blink your eyes and they can be up 10, 15 in a moment's notice. Luckily it happened when we were up by 20 so were still able to recover," added Cone.

"If it had happened in the middle of the game and it's a two-point game or a three-point game, we don't recover from that. So it's a little bit back in the drawing board for us going into Game 2." (NC)