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Ginebra, SMB shoot for semis berths

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and reigning champion San Miguel Beer will be gunning for semifinals berths when they battle separate foes today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings face Meralco in the first game at 4:30 p.m. and the Beermen meet TNT KaTropa at 7 p.m.

After winning over the Bolts in Game 1 (88-81) through Justin Brownlee’s 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists last Monday, Ginebra coach Tim Cone expects another defensive battle in Game 2 against Meralco.

“Hard to think about Game 2 at the moment but like what I said we will see more of (Arinze) Onuaku. He is going to be a bigger presence in Game 2. It’s going to be another defensive battle,” said Cone. “They are going to come out with a great force to start the game and we’re going to come out with our own force and see if we can beat it.”

“You meet force with force, that’s the only way you could do it,” added Cone, who is hopeful that the 6’5 Brownlee will deliver the big shots again in Game 2. “He (Brownlee) always hit the big shots and hopefully he can do it again on Wednesday.”

Brownlee, who is averaging 26.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the elimination round, agrees with his coach.

“It is not going to be so easy, they (Meralco)are a tough team,” said Brownlee. “We expect Onuaku to have a big game, we look for him to have a big game.”

Meralco coach Norman Black, on the other hand, expressed frustration regarding officiating in Game 1.

“We didn’t play good defense in the second half and they made some shots in the second half,” said Black. “We will comeback (Game 2) on Wednesday and do the best we can. I just hope we can come out and get a better shake from the guys governing the games.”

“I was frustrated with the endgame. The game was called well in the beginning. But in the end, I didn’t think it called well at all. So if I get a fine, so what?”

San Miguel Beer, meanwhile, is bent on sweeping the series.

The Beermen erased a 23-point deficit to stun TNT (121-110) in the series opener.

“We don’t want to have another slow break. The good thing was (in Game 1) they relaxed so we were able to do our game plan. We got their import in foul trouble,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria referring to TNT reinforcement Joshua Smith. “But this is just a minor setback.”

Smith got fouled out late in the game, allowing San Miguel Beer to stretch its lead in crunch time.

“They have still a chance. This is a short series and they need to win twice (to get into the semifinals). We have the advantage, but this (advantage) is nothing because they are a competitive team.”

Import Renaldo Balkman poured in 23 of his 36 points in the second half on top of 16 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks, while June Mar Fajardo added 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Beermen.

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