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Winner to face Barangay Ginebra in best-of-7 semifinals

Ryan Gregorio strongly feels they will make the semifinals.

All it takes is a one good game to accomplish their goal.

But the Purefoods coach also acknowledged it won't be easy. The Giants, he said, need some character reawakening to avoid the specter of elimination in the 2009 Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference playoffs.

The Giants saved their season by holding off Rain or Shine, 84-82, in Game 2 of their semifinal series to force a deciding Game 3 last June 3.

But they almost spoiled their efforts in Game 2 by blowing away a 24-point advantage in the fourth quarter and needed two free throws from import Marquin Chandler in the final 1.2 seconds to seal the win.

“We have to check the character of our team. We have a tendency to relax, the next time might be too late,” Gregorio said. “The bottom line is not to relax. We closed our eyes for a minute and the next thing we knew we already lost our 24-point lead.”

In the same breath, he also commended his troops for keeping their composure when the going got tough.

“Ang importante is that you still have the composure to win the game. Mas mabuti `yung muntik matalo kaysa `yung muntik manalo,” the Purefoods coach said.

The deciding Game 3 is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum with the winner facing defending champion Barangay Ginebra in the best-of-seven Final Four.

By that time, the Giants are well rested and sporting fresh legs.

The close to two-week break Purefoods had following the Powerade-Team Pilipinas’ successful title campaign in the 8th South East Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Men’s Championship in Medan, Indonesia should be more than enough for the team to regroup and get back in the groove.

“Yung mahahabang bakasyon, yes I think it does favor us,” Gregorio admitted.

“The only thing here is that James (Yap) and Kerby (Raymundo) will be only practicing for us for a day or two since they are coming off their stint with the national team, although I’m very confident that there are other guys who will step up big and know the repercussions of that particular game.”

One major concern for the Giants however, is the expected return of guard Sol Mercado in Rain or Shine’s roster.

The stocky rookie missed the first two games of the series after suffering a pulled hamstring in the Elasto Painters’ wildcard match against Barako Bull.

“That’s the reason why we really have to play good basketball right from the opening tip. We can’t celebrate the way we did the last time when we had a 24-point lead, we can’t relax, we can’t put our hands down when the game is not yet over,” Gregorio pointed out.

But having gone this far, the Purefoods coach is keeping his fingers crossed the Giants will be able to pull this one off again.

“We fought off two knockout situations and both prevailed. I just hope we can get another one going in Game 3,” he said.

Source: http://www.pba.ph/content/view/2681/1/
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