CROWN BELONGS TO THE KINGS
MANILA, February 11, 2005 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - If Mark Caguioa proves true to his words once again, the best-of-seven series for the Gran Matador PBA Philippine Cup should end tonight.
Caguioa has guaranteed the coveted All-Filipino championship is theirs as Ginebra overcame Talk n Text in an epic double-overtime game Wednesday to gain the pivotal three-game-to-two lead in their best-of-seven title playoff.
The Kings’ ace two-guard offered the same promise in their titular showdown versus the Red Bull Barako Thunder in the Fiesta Conference and made it good, ruling the transition PBA tourney in six games.
Caguioa and his Ginebra teammates take the first of their two chances at the championship in Game Six at 7:30 p.m. today at the Araneta Coliseum.
But Talk n Text coach Joel Banal said all they have to do is to forget Game Five and focus on Game Six, and they could very well prove Caguioa wrong.
"I’m not losing hope. We’re going to come out like true warriors in Game Six," said Banal. "Believe and you’ll see the glory of God."
However, Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen’s idea is also to keep his players focused on the task at hand.
"Talk n Text is really a tough team. (After the Game Five win) we must come back still focused on the game," said Tanquingcen.
"It’s now hard to make adjustments. We know now what they’re doing and they know what we’re doing. The series could boil down to (game plays) execution," Tanquingcen added. "If one keeps on changing, he’ll become jack of all trades, master of none. So we’ll just try to improve on what we do the best."
Eric Menk, meanwhile, believes they have to continue finding ways to compete well minus Jayjay Helterbrand and they could really have a good chance at recording the franchise’s first back-to-back championships in the league.
Menk said Sunday Salvacion became their biggest salvation Wednesday as the former St. Benilde Blazer came through with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists.
But obviously, the Kings’ collective effort Wednesday spelled the big difference as they checked a two-game skid in the series.
Caguioa followed up his 43-point performance in Game Four with a 26-point showing, Rodney Santos bounced back strong from a woeful game Sunday by making 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists Wednesday while Menk had a double-double job with 16 rebounds and 13 assists.
There’s also Romel Adducul, who collected 15 rebounds, four points and three blocks although he continued to be pathetic from the stripe. Adducul has made only three of 21 foul shots in the series.
Vic Pablo, Mark Telan and Willie Miller dished out sterling games but lost steam in the second overtime.
But Banal vowed they would do what it takes to stay in the hunt for a title-repeat in this tourney.
"Not everything will be easy. But as what many say the harder (you get the championship), the sweeter," said Banal.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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