Barangay Ginebra San Miguel this time came out as the winner of another gritty affair with Rain or Shine with an 81-73 decision Friday night to secure a semifinals berth in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Japeth Aguilar scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but it was Stanley Pringle who ignited a late push that allowed top seed Ginebra to cut short No. 8 Rain or Shine’s quarterfinal stint.
The win puts Ginebra in a best-of-five matchup against either defending champion San Miguel Beer or Meralco which starts Wednesday.
Meralco forced a do-or-die quarters match on Sunday after a 78-71 victory over SMB to kick off playoff action inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
Ginebra got back at Rain or Shine after an 85-82 overtime loss in their only elimination round meeting.
“We came into this game expecting a grind it out and that’s exactly what we got,” said coach Tim Cone, who added that his team had to get back to play “90s-style Ginebra basketball.”
Ginebra was clinging to a 72-71 lead when Pringle finally found a way to beat the Rain or Shine defenders with back-to-back baskets to make it 76-71.
Pringle’s two baskets were followed by one scored by Aljon Mariano and a three from LA Tenorio that made it 81-71 with under a minute left.
Pringle finished with 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting but the likes of Mariano (11 points and nine rebounds), Prince Caperal (11 points) and Tenorio (eight points and eight assists) came through for the Kings.
Tenorio’s assists total also made him the 11th player in PBA history to have at least 3,000 dimes in his career.
Mark Borboran scored 13 points while Javee Mocon had 12 points but on a 3-of-9 clip with three rebounds as Rain or Shine’s season ended in disappointment after a promising start in the bubble.
ROS won its first three games, only to go 3-5 the rest of the eliminations to finish eighth.
GINEBRA 81 — Aguilar 23, Mariano 11, Caperal 11, Pringle 10, Tenorio 8, Thompson 7, Devance 4, Dillinger 4, Chan 3, Tolentino 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 73 — Borboran 13, Mocon 12, Nambatac 10, Belga 9, Yap 8, Onwubere 6, Wong 6, Ponferada 5, Rosales 2, Arana 2, Norwood 0, Torres 0.
Quarters: 20-22, 40-37, 59-55, 81-73.