In this PBA recap, we will be talking about the defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, who was one win away from the finals as they defeated the San Miguel Beermen in the first two games of their best-of-five semifinals.
In the first game, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel flexed their muscle against the San Miguel Beermen, 121-112, on Friday, March 24.
Barangay Ginebra One Win Away from PBA Governors Cup Finals
The first two-quarters of the match saw the sister teams go head-to-head before Allyn Bulanadi's three-point field goal tied the game at 25-all. Since then, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has shown dominance, leading as much as 21 points late in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the San Miguel Beermen tied the game at 95-all after Robbie Herndon sank his three-point field goal. After that, however, the defending champions showed their experience as they completely shut the door on San Miguel, 121-112.
Christian Standhardinger once again led the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with a double-double performance of 33 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, while Jamie Malonzo contributed 27 points and six rebounds.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee also had a double-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists, while Scottie Thompson added 15 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
Jonathan Gray, who took LA Tenorio's spot in the starting line-up as he battles stage 3 colon cancer, scored 12 points.
For the side of the San Miguel Beermen, import Cameron Clark was limited to 26 points and nine rebounds, while Jaymar Perez had 23 points and seven rebounds.
Marcio Lassiter contributed 20 points, while Jericho Cruz provided a much-needed spark off the bench with 13 points and five rebounds.
Mo Tautuaa had a double-double performance of 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Vic Manuel added 10 points and six rebounds.
PBA Recap: Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Showed Force for Captain LA Tenorio
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel team captain LA Tenorio, who announced that he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, supported his team as he sat on the bench and gave inputs to coach Tim Cone and the rest of the staff.
After their Game 1 victory, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone said that he and the rest of the team want to repay LA Tenorio's commitment as he battles cancer.
"It can be kind of corny to say that we're doing this for LA. Of course, we're doing this for LA. It doesn't need to be said, [and] I don't think it needs to be repeated. He honors us by our presence. Hopefully, we can honor him by continuing to play hard and playing his image."
While LA Tenorio's diagnosis prevented him from playing basketball for the time being, he took on a mantle as a temporary part of the coaching staff until he can make a possible return in October.
Coach Tim Cone said, "It's a great honor that he is here with us and doing things that he wants to do while he's doing things he needs to do. I feel honored that he's spending his time with us. He's so valuable. He's our leader.
"He's just a natural-born leader. I just find it really selfless on his part to be here, and I think the whole team feels that."
Although they won, coach Tim Cone admitted they had terrible stretches, especially when they lost their 21-point lead in the fourth quarter.
"We won the game, so I guess we played well [enough], but we had some bad stretches where we didn't play well and played a little flat."
Christian Standhardinger echoed coach Tim Cone's words, saying, "Even if we're up by 15, even if we're up by 20, we need to keep pushing."
"You never count them out, and I think that's the lesson that we need to take out of this game even though it's a happy ending for us. They got some great shooters and some great scorers, and in about five minutes, boom, it was an even game.
"We need to keep pushing out there and play the best defense that we can play."
The San Miguel Beermen were missing the services of six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo as he is still recuperating from an MCL injury he suffered in the East Asia Super League earlier this month.
"Obviously, they are a better team with June Mar because he's a six-time MVP, and you can't disrespect June Mar. But you can't take away the fact that they're a different team without him.
"They're a bit more fast-paced, but they still have so much talent to play great, great basketball. I'm just happy that we went out and got the victory and got it done today."
PBA Recap Semifinals Game 2: Selfless Basketball Gave Ginebra the Win
In Game 2, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's famed triangle offense was in its full glory as they defeated the San Miguel Beermen, 121-103, on Sunday, March 26.
The San Miguel Beermen did not stand a chance against the defending champions as they played catch-up throughout the game. The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel recorded their most significant lead at 24 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee had a double-double once again with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, while Christian Standhardinger had 32 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
However, the star of the night for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel was Scottie Thompson, who recorded a triple-double performance of 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jamie Malonzo added 11 points and seven rebounds.
For the side of the San Miguel Beermen, Cameron Clark had a tremendous double-double performance of 23 points and 17 rebounds, while Jaymar Perez contributed 20 points and seven rebounds.
San Miguel Beermen team captain Chris Ross provided much-needed help from the bench with 19 points and eight assists, while Mo Tautuaa contributed 12 points and five rebounds.
PBA Recap: Coach Tim Cone Gives Credits to Thompson
After their Game 2 victory, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone credited Scottie Thompson for their win as he started sharing the ball with his teammates. The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel recorded 35 assists compared to just 20 of the San Miguel Beermen.
"I thought we played a better game tonight than we did Friday night, and these guys were incredible, so willing to give up the ball, everybody in our team will say it starts with this guy," coach Tim Cone said as he pointed to Scottie Thompson.
"With [Scottie] doing that all the time, it becomes infectious to the team."
For Scottie, he deflected the credit to coach Tim Cone, the most winningest coach in the history of the PBA with 25 championships under his belt.
"We played unselfish basketball. We really shared the ball. Everyone's happy because everyone scored. I give credit to coach Tim's system because he emphasized ball movement," he said.
"Our execution just opened through the system. All of us were willing to give assists."
Although they lead by 2-0, coach Tim Cone said it would be a different series with San Miguel Beermen star June Mar Fajardo and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel players LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar playing. All three have been nursing various injuries and diseases.
"It'll be a lot different of a series if June Mar was playing, let me tell you. June Mar's absence is really huge in this series," he said. June Mar has already missed five games, but the San Miguel Beermen can't win against the crowd-favorite with their big man.
"It would be interesting to see them in full complement with them and him against us with Japeth [Aguilar] and LA [Tenorio]. We're playing a short rotation, basically, because both are not there, and it changes our game a bit."
If June Mar was playing, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel would not have won the first two games, and it would be a completely different scenario.
"June Mar is such a huge part of what they do and what they've done historically. His absence is obviously a huge factor in this whole thing. It allows us to put our focus on other players rather than have it on June Mar all the time," he said.
Although June Mar had been ruled out for the semifinals, coach Tim Cone and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel have no room for complacency, especially against the San Miguel Beermen.
"You start looking for leads; then you're opening yourself up for being complacent. If you do that against a team like this, you're in big trouble. We got one game to play; that's what we're thinking about. The old one game at a time [mentality]."
The Barangay Ginebra Sa Miguel will try to close the series against the San Miguel Beermen on Wednesday, March 29, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.