Barangay Ginebra San Miguel moved on the doorstep of another finals appearance after beating Meralco 91-84 Sunday night in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Stanley Pringle redeemed himself from his struggles the last time with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Kings gained a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five affair with a strong half before keeping a strong stand amid multiple attempts by the Bolts to complete a comeback.
Pringle was big for Ginebra after being held to nine points on 4-of-16 shooting in Game 2 that saw Ginebra blow a 13-point third quarter before losing 95-77.
He scored 12 points in the first half as Ginebra built a 37-15 lead in the second quarter, a cushion that proved to be beneficial.
Meralco did try to orchestrate a rally the rest of the way but Ginebra was too consistent on both ends thanks to Prince Caperal, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance and Scottie Thompson.
Pringle then resumed his customary role as Ginebra’s closer, scoring nine in the payoff period to keep the Kings afloat and deny the Bolts one final opportunity to make things interesting.
“He was dead tired down that stretch, but he knows he’s our finisher,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “Like I said, we’ll run our offense all the way through until the three or four minutes then it’s going to be Stanley, Stanley, Stanley, Stanley just like it was like with Justin, Justin, Justin, Justin.”
Cone was referring to Justin Brownlee, who has accounted for all of Ginebra’s four championships since 2016. Another win and it will give the Kings a crack at their first All-Filipino under the PBA’s winningest mentor.
Caperal had 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, Aguilar turned in 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks and Tenorio put up 12 points and four assists.
Devance was hailed by Cone as Ginebra’s most important player after posting 10 points and five rebounds while Thompson had nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals for Ginebra.
Allein Maliksi fired 23 points spiked by six triples to continue his impressive shooting in the series, but Chris Newsome was held to 2-of-10 from the field despite finishing with 12 points.
GINEBRA 91 — Pringle 24, Caperal 15, Tenorio 12, Aguilar 12, Devance 10, Thompson 9, Mariano 5, Tolentino 4.
MERALCO 84 — Maliksi 23, Almazan 16, Hodge 13, Newsome 12, Amer 9, Quinto 6, Black 3, Hugnatan 2, Faundo 0, Jamito 0, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 27-12, 45-34, 64-52, 91-84.