SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Despite struggling on offense all game long, Scottie Thompson bailed out Barangay Ginebra once more.
Thompson hit a booming triple from the right corner–his only points in the match–to hand the Kings an 87-85 lead over the TNT Tropang Giga with 30.5 seconds left in Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup finals on Wednesday night at the AUF Arena.
Veteran guard LA Tenorio then drained the game-sealing free throws as Ginebra completed a comeback from a 15-point deficit and eked out a 92-90 win for a 2-0 series advantage.
Thompson’s shot was reminiscent of his game-winning three-pointer, albeit from the left side, that lifted the Kings to an 83-80 victory over the Meralco Bolts in the do-or-die semifinal match less than a week ago.
But the 27-year-old guard was quick to credit main gunner Stanley Pringle for finding him wide-open at the corner.
“‘Yung trust ni Stanley talaga, kinick-out niya na naman sa’kin. Binasa niya ‘yung defense kasi nandun sa kanya lahat and then na-open ulit ako sa corner. Wala na rin akong ibang ulit gagawin kundi itira,” he said.
“Minalas man sa una buti sa huli na-open, tinira ko lang and na-shoot naman so good thing para sa’min. Naka-tsamba na naman,” he added in jest.
Coach Tim Cone said he was not surprised by another endgame heroics from Thompson.
“When he has that opportunity especially on the corner, he’s gonna knock that shot down. When I saw that pass go to him, I was like, ‘Alright we’re ahead,’ because I knew it was gonna go in,” said Cone.
The one-time Finals MVP, who scored 15 points in their 100-94 overtime triumph in Game One, was 0-of-4 from the field including two misfired attempts from beyond the arc prior to his big shot.
Tenorio was also scoreless before his crucial freebies while Japeth Aguilar only had six points coming off a 25-point explosion in the series opener.
Fortunately, Pringle was on fire to finish with 34 points while Aljon Mariano stepped up with a career-high tying 20 markers.
“Talagang nag-struggle kami. Not just me but also Japeth and kuya LA. Buti palaging on si Stanley and si Aljon talagang nag-step up. Ayun ‘yung turning point talaga. Sila ‘yung dalawang bumuhat sa’min throughout the game.”
Thompson was still active in crashing the boards as he hauled down a team-high tying nine rebounds on top of three assists and two steals.
The former NCAA MVP from Perpetual Help is now bracing for a tougher assignment come Game 3 on Friday after seeing Roger Pogoy erupt for 38 points while statistical points frontrunner Ray Parks Jr. is expected to come back after aggravating his left calf strain injury in the opening game.
“Gagawin lang namin ‘yung best namin ulit na makuha ‘yung panalo. Pero syempre hindi ‘yan basta-basta ibibigay ng TNT so talagang paghihirapan namin every game.”