Kings win Game 3 to cut SMB’s lead to 2-1

Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar penetrates the San Miguel Beer defense in Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena Tuesday night.

MANILA — This time around, the Barangay Ginebra Kings managed to hold on to their lead to hack out a pulsating 95-87 victory over the San Miguel Beermen in Game 3 of their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena Tuesday night.

The victory thus narrowed down SMB’s lead in the series at 2-1 with Game 4 set Thursday night.

Japeth Aguilar once again showed the way for the Ginebra, firing a game-high 25 points on top of 12 rebounds. LA Tenorio was also a major factor in the Kings’ victory, finishing with 15 points. He sealed the victory with a three-point play with 32 seconds left that gave Ginebra a seven-point lead — enough cushion to prevent anymore SMB last-gasp rally.

Prince Caperal, the 6’7” outcast from Kia, reprised his breakthrough performance in Game 3 with another brilliant act. The 23-year-old big man scored 12 points and also collected four rebounds and an assist in 33 minutes as a starter for Ginebra. His buzzer-beating three-point shot midway in the final quarter put an end to a furious SMB rally that saw the Beermen chopping down Ginebra’s 14-point lead to just two points.

In Game 2, the Kings also led for most parts of the game, erecting a 15-point bulge only to collapse in the endgame when the Beermen launched a blazing counter-attack. In that game, Caperal scored a personal career-high of 26 points in that game.

Jervy Cruz added 12 points for Ginebra while Joe Devance chipped in 11 markers.

The Kings continued to play without their injured starting center Greg Slaughter. The injury bug also bit SMB as point guard Chris Ross left the game after aggravating his strained right thigh.

June Fajardo continued to literally strut his weight around, leading SMB with 23 points. Sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter, the hero in Game 2, added 14 points. Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos chipped in 13 points apiece.

Game Wednesday: Magnolia Hotshots vs. NLEX Road Warriors (Game 3 of best-of-7 semifinals; series tied 1-1).