The best-of-five series got off to a fast start with TNT defeating Meralco 110-80 and Ginebra upsetting San Miguel 121-112.
The struggle is just beginning for both teams as they anticipate a fiercely tough Game Two with Meralco and San Miguel up against it.
Jojo Lastimosa, head coach of TNT, remarked, he know it’s going to be harder for the team, Meralco’s lack of energy startled him, but there are probably several reasons for it, including the fact that they just experienced an emotional victory (against Magnolia).
Lastimosa was referencing Meralco’s win over Magnolia Chicken Timplados in overtime during their quarterfinal encounter last Wednesday. He does not want to believe that Meralco will not have a strategy. Coach Norman Black has been there. He was a player against him, and he has been coaching for a while. He has achieved great success. In this kind of circumstance, he is capable of adapting.
Tim Cone, the head coach of Barangay Ginebra, also believes San Miguel is capable of rallying, especially after the Kings lead Game One by as many as 21, only for the Beermen to tie it at one point in the fourth quarter.
Cone cautioned that this team is too good. If the game is even and you start to lose focus, they can really blink your eyes and they’ll be ahead by 10 or 15 in no time. Fortunately, we had gained 20.
In their game against TNT on Wednesday, Meralco coach Norman Black acknowledged that exhaustion played a factor in why his team lacked the stamina to compete.
In order to retain their Governors’ Cup title, the Gin Kings must defeat the Beermen, who, according to Cone, have been playing their best basketball with Fajardo out due to an MCL injury.
Cone noted that without Fajardo, the Beermen were able to ramp up their offensive game while still having a strong interior presence in import Cameron Clark.
They have demonstrated over the last three games that they are capable of playing at a high level without June Mar. They actually play a little faster and with more difficulties. Their import has a chance to rule the inside a little bit more. They have handled June Mar’s absence brilliantly, according to Cone.
Cone also paid attention to CJ Perez’s performance, who has emerged this season as San Miguel’s dominant player because of his variety of plays on the court.
Yet, with Fajardo out, Cone is also hoping to benefit from Christian Standhardinger’s excellent play, who is now leading the statistical race for the Best Player of the Conference while stepping in for Japeth Aguilar.
Meanwhile, TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the charge with a triple double of 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists in the victory, which made things worse for Meralco.
KJ McDaniels led Meralco in scoring and collected a team-high 14 rebounds in addition to 12 of his own.
Black chose to rest his star players in the fourth quarter in order to get ready for Game Two as the outcome of the game was imminent.
After a closely contested quarterfinal game against Magnolia Chicken Timplados that went into overtime just last Wednesday, Meralco coach Norman Black said his team didn’t have the legs for Game One of their 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals versus TNT.