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Kings, Bolts resume showdown

            It’s crunch time, with the Kings going for closeout and the Bolts fighting for extension of the virtual Last Two Minutes of their bubble stay as Barangay Ginebra and Meralco clash in Game Four of their side of the PBA Philippine Cup Final Four at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Center today.

            Tip-off is at 3:45 p.m.

            The Kings are taking the game with a lot of caution, wary of what a hungry foe can do. But they’re definitely bent to march forward and claim a shot at the best Christmas they could get in pandemic period.

            For the Bolts, it’s about repelling enemy charge – nothing less – and setting a winner-take-all.

            “It’s going to be really hard to close them out,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.

            “They got a great coach over there who’s also been through these kinds of wars and they got a young, hungry core that’s listening to him,” Cone added.

            Stanley Pringle, a big factor for Ginebra, said the job is not done and the key is to execute the well-drawn game plan of their coaches.

            The flamboyant Fil-Am guard bounced back strong from a Game Two flop, coming through with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Kings closed in on the Last Dance with a 91-84 triumph Sunday.

            But both teams are thinking the two-day breather – a big luxury in the tough bubble grind – can spell a difference in the next game.

            From a 79-96 blowout loss in Game One, the Bolts managed to spring back with a 95-77 rout in Game Two.

            They eye the same today, hoping to clamp down on the Kings, get the rebounds and make their shots to force a 2-2 standoff.

            They know, though, that it’s easier said than done against the Kings, thrice their conquerors in three title showdowns in the Governors’ Cup.

            And the Kings are determined to move forward in a bid to get a chance at extending their reign beyond the Governors’ Cup.

            TNT VS. PHOENIX

            Adjustment is the key word for TNT if it hopes to stay alive in its PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against Phoenix Super LPG.

            And from all indications, it is likely the Tropang Giga would be borrowing a page from the Fuel Masters’ playbook and be unpredictable.

            Coach Bong Ravena noted that Phoenix’s threats come from different directions, featuring not only Game 3 hero Matthew Wright but also the likes of Jason Perkins, Calvin Abueva, Justin Chua, RJ Jazul, Alex Mallari, RR Garcia and even Brian Heruela.

            In contrast, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. has been consistent for the Tropang Giga, but the likes of Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro, and Poy Erram have been inconsistent, leading to the whole team’s marked dip in performance.

            Still, Ravena noted that the games in the series, including TNT’s 95-92 cliffhanger in the opener, have been close despite his Tropa’s own flaws and lapses.

            He maintained that the key for his team is executing in the stretch, like what Phoenix has recently done.

            “We just have to get over that hump, finish the game. We have to finish the game,” he added. “We have to think outside the box. Good thing we have had two days to prepare.”

            Phoenix coach Topex Robinson said his team intends to help boost the morale of other underdogs, not only in the pro league or other sports but in everyday life.

            “If we can go to the finals, and inspire a lot of people, that’s where we’re headed,” he said.*PBA.PH

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