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Gin Kings, Dragons brace for pivotal Game Three today

BARANGAY Ginebra head coach Tim Cone — PBA MEDIA

Game Today(MOA Arena)5:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs Bay Area*Series tied, 1-1

WITH the benefit of a week’s worth of sharpening their swords, deadlocked duelists Barangay Ginebra and Bay Area engage today in a pivotal fight for control in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title series.

The Gin Kings and the Dragons split the first two games of the best-of-seven contest just before the year-end ceasefire, making the 5:45 p.m. fixture at the MOA Arena a heated race to get to 2-1 first.

The Dragons draw momentum and confidence from finally beating Gin Kings, 99-82, in their last pre-New Year showdown on Dec. 28 after losing the series opener on Christmas Day, 96-81.

But the crowd darlings are ready to fight back and reassert their might against the Hong Kong cagers, whom they also dominated in their elims encounter, 111-93.

“Like I said after Game 1, we didn’t win the series after Game 1. We didn’t lose the series after Game 2,” said Mr. Cone.

Bay Area’s chief strategist Brian Goorjian said Game 3 plans focus primarily on “getting better” at the recalibrated schemes they used in taking down the Gin Kings last game.

“We have to continue to keep them off the foul line, stay competitive on rebounding, make sure we get back on defense and keep moving the ball on offense,” Mr. Goorjian said in The Game on One Sports. “Adjustments have been made and it’s just moving forward and getting better with these adjustments.”

Mr. Cone admitted the Gin Kings didn’t have the proper mentality last time after cruising to the opening romp.

“One thing we learned (in Game 2), I think we just started to feel like we just show up and win. And we can’t do that against this team. This team is way, way too good, and too big. They’re too athletic and they’re too well-coached,” he said.

Ginebra enters the tiebreaker with its dreaded “sixth man” in tow. But the visitors are unfazed, using this as further motivation to stand their ground.

“The stadium, to the roof, is packed and I’ve never been in one where there’s no one for you. It’s all for them. That motivation is fun, too. It’s like coming in here in the military. It’s us against the world,” said Mr. Goorjian.

Notes: Converge and Blackwater kicked off 2023 with a trade deal involving four players and a future draft pick. The FiberXers, who reached the quarterfinals on Aldin Ayo’s first tournament, acquired big man Barkley Ebona and the Bossing’s First Round selection in the Season 48 rookie draft. In return, the Bossing got RK Ilagan, Mike DiGregorio and Tyrus Hill. The deal was approved by the PBA yesterday. — Olmin Leyba

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