by Jonas Terrado
Justin Brownlee scored the final five points to help defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel deal NorthPort its first loss, 73-70, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Brownlee converted a layup then drained a corner three with 1:23 remaining in the fourth, allowing the Kings to produce a second straight win after dropping their opening assignment against the Blackwater Elite.
The Batang Pier had a chance to force the game into overtime but missed three attempts from rainbow country by Sean Anthony and Garvo Lanete.
Ginebra prevailed despite coach Tim Cone’s assessment of his team’s struggles against NorthPort’s zone defense.
“I feel like it’s a loss. It certainly wasn’t pretty,” said Cone.
Brownlee finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals, Greg Slaughter added 16 points and Scottie Thompson 11 points and 12 rebounds for Ginebra.
Mo Tautuaa and Anthony had 15 and 14 points while import Prince Ibeh tallied eight points, 24 rebounds and five blocks but NorthPort lost after starting the conference with three straight wins.
Tautuaa’s layup with barely two minutes left gave NorthPort a 70-68 lead but Brownlee put on his trademark heroics in the clutch.
Ginebra played sans Jared Dillinger, who the other day was acquired in a stunning move after he was placed in the unrestricted free agent list by Meralco.
Dillinger is still out due to an injury quad.
Ginebra 73 – Brownlee 32, Slaughter 16, Thompson 11, Mercado 6, Aguilar 3, Ferrer 3, Mariano 2, Devance 0, Tenorio 0, Teodoro 0.
NorthPort 70 – Tautuaa 15, Anthony 14, Grey 9, Lanete 8, Ibeh 8, Pringle 7, Bolick 5, Elorde 4, Flores 0, Gabayni 0.
Quarterscores: 13-14, 38-31, 55-54, 73-70.