Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s fought off TNT’s fightback to carve out a 104-92 win and force their quarterfinal matchup in the PBA Governors’ Cup to a rubber match Wednesday, March 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings lost a 19-point lead but saw import Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Nards Pinto and Christian Standhardinger step up to keep their title-retention bid alive before a roaring midweek crowd inside the Big Dome.
Ginebra also overcame the fiery shooting of super rookie Mikey Williams and a bunch of baskets from Troy Rosario to arrange a do-or-die affair for a spot in the semifinals on Saturday.
Brownlee, known to come through in playoff situations, fired 38 points while adding 12 rebounds and three blocks to complete the Gin Kings’ first step in beating the twice-to-beat Tropang Giga.
Thompson had another all-around effort with 23 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks while Aguilar put up 21 points and seven rebounds.
Pinto produced his best game since joining Ginebra as an unrestricted free agent, knocking down two three-point shots during the fourth that kept Ginebra in front while also forcing Williams to work on his shots.
Standhardinger bucked five personal fouls with key assists in the payoff period that put the Tropang Giga at bay. He went on to produce six points and four assists.
Rosario scored 20 points, Williams put up 19 and import Aaron Fuller tallied 22 points and 19 rebounds but TNT fell short in its first crack at reaching the last four.
TNT also saw a five-game winning streak dating back last month come to an end, the setback now putting coach Chot Reyes’ wards in a must-win situation against a rejuvenated Ginebra side and its throng of supporters.
Ginebra went on a surge late in the first quarter to lead 28-14, before a three by Jeff Chan made it 40-21 with barely nine minutes in the second.
The Tropang Giga, however, made a resurgence the rest of the period with Williams waxing hot from inside and out and the Gin Kings’ margin was reduced to five, 50-45, at the break.
Ginebra’s lead barely grew as TNT kept responding, eventually going into the fourth trailing 71-70 on a buzzer-beating triple by Williams and tying the game twice, the last at 73-all on a basket by Fuller.
But Pinto hit two threes and Brownlee had one during a 9-2 counter by Ginebra for 82-75, maintaining its lead until the end.
GINEBRA 104 — Brownlee 38, Thompson 23, J. Aguilar 21, Tenorio 7, Standhardinger 6, Pinto 6, Chan 3, Onwubere 0, Devance 0, Caperal 0.
TNT 92 — Fuller 22, Rosario 20, M.Williams 19, Pogoy 12, K.Williams 12, Castro 5, Montalbo 0, Erram 0, Reyes 0, Khobuntin 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 28-14, 50-45, 71-70, 104-92.