Closing out San Miguel is tough, hard to imagine, says Tim Cone

Ginebra has a golden chance to put the nail in the coffin on San Miguel Beer when they clash in Game 4 of their PBA Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal series on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But coach Tim Cone is well aware that putting an end to the Beermen’s title-retention bid is easier said than done.

“Closing out an opponent in a series is always hard. Closing out an opponent like San Miguel will be incredibly tough, almost hard to imagine,” the PBA’s all-time winning coach said ahead of their 6:30 p.m. encounter.

The Kings are fresh from a pulsating 97-96 squeaker of a win against the Beermen on Friday, thanks to Japeth Aguilar’s game-clinching, buzzer-beater to give Cone’s squad a 2-1 series upperhand.

But Cone has been in the league long enough to know that San Miguel is a dangerous foe, especially since it was just over seven months ago when coach Leo Austria guided the Beermen to a historic comeback from a 0-3 Finals deficit against the Alaska Aces.

In fact, Austria himself cautioned their opponents after that painful Game 3 loss, saying no one should count them out since they’ve pulled off what no team in the PBA’s 41-year history has achieved in a best-of-seven title series.

“We’ve been in this kind of situation, worst than this situation, 0-3. And we were able to come back. So this is a best-of-five series, we still have 2 wins to get to the Finals, so a lot of chances,” said Austria.

Still, Cone said with the chance to close out their opponents, they will have to come up with a unified effort against the defending champion SMB.

“But we are determined, we know the danger of having to go to a Game 5 with them,” he continued. “We need to go all out.” – Jason Mercene

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