[PHOTO AT LEFT - Ginebra’s Jayjay Helterbrand hoists his trophy after copping the coveted MVP award. JUN MENDOZA MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, JULY 9, 2009 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Gabe Freeman came through with a key four-point binge then David Noel missed three charities at the finish as San Miguel Beer once again got back at Barangay Ginebra, 106-104, forcing a 2-2 deadlock in the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference best-of-seven finale at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

Freeman put in a game-high 23 points including a follow-up basket and two free throws inside the last 26 seconds that paved the way for the San Miguel squeaker, reducing the series to a best-of-three affair.

Despite the victory, San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen rued not getting any break from the referees.

“As it is, Ginebra is already a strong team. I give them credit for they really play hard. But they also enjoy all the breaks from the refs and that makes them tougher to play,” said Tanquingcen.

“I don’t blame them (the referees). The crowd is behind Ginebra and maybe it’s human nature they get the calls on close plays. I just wish that sometimes, we get some breaks,” Tanquingcen added.

Ginebra coach Jong Uichico said they blew Game Four as they lost the battle off the boards.

“We thought it came down to the last play or the missed foul shots, but it didn’t. It came down to their offensive rebounds. They scored 23 second-chance points. Had we cut their offensive rebounds by at least two or their second-chance production by at least four, we could have won the game,” said Uichico.

Freeman made the most number of rebounds with 21, the last from the offensive board allowing him to score a putback that broke a 101-all deadlock with time down to 26 seconds.

Noel drew a foul on a three-point attempt from Freeman in the ensuing play. Alas, the Ginebra import flubbed all three charities, forcing the Kings to force a quick foul on the Beermen in the next play.

Freeman, drawing a foul from Noel, sank the crucial free throws to stretch their lead to 105-101 with 13.5 ticks left.

Noel gave the Kings some ray of hope as he knocked in a trey off Marc Pingris three seconds later.

Mike Cortez split his charities on the return play but the Kings hastened their downfall as Chico Lanete and Ronald Tubid misfired three-point attempts in the closing seconds.

Dondon Hontiveros earlier sizzled with 11 of his 19 points at the start of the fourth quarter, pushing SMB ahead at 82-77.

From there, the Beermen stayed in control, holding a seven-point lead at 101-94, before the Kings unleashed a seven-to-nothing attack to pull even at 101-all.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved