Barangay Ginebra came alive in the second half and overhauled a huge 19-point deficit to take down NLEX, 83-75, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Wednesday, June 22.
The Gin Kings rode a huge third quarter rally where they embarked on a furious 19-5 run to erase the double-digit deficit before Japeth Aguilar, Arvin Tolentino and LA Tenorio delivered key baskets down the stretch to frustrate the Road Warriors and grab solo second in the standings with a 3-1 win-loss record.
Aguilar bounced back from a lackluster performance during the Manila Clasico with 20 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while Tolentino, who provided the spark in Ginebra’s second half explosion, chipped in 17 points powered by four rainbow connections.
“I just thought that we really did a good job staying in the game and battling. We all struggled, I struggled mentality in the first half trying to figure out what we could do. We made some huge adjustments that we don’t usually make in the second half. Some random stuff that we don’t even practice,” said Cone.
“So the guys did a great job in turning themselves around mentally. Just staying in the game until the get a little run going, a little momentum and just the crowd carried us all the way,” he added
Staring at a 19-point deficit, 39-58 halfway through the third frame, Aguilar triggered the telling run with an and-1 play on an alley-oop dunk off a nice feed from John Pinto which proved to be the wake-up call the Gin Kings needed.
Ginebra displayed its comeback genes anew with Scottie Thompson and Tolentino nailing consecutive baskets to cut the lead down to just five, 58-63.
NLEX, behind Kevin Alas and Calvin Oftana, tried to keep the Gin Kings at bay in the first few minutes of the final frame but Ginebra finally broke the NLEX’s four-point barrier following back-to-back treys from Tolentino – the last one, a right wing triple that tied the game at 67-all with 6:58 remaining in the clock.
A Pinto layup in the next play gave the Gin Kings its first taste of the lead.
Another triple from Tolentino and an Aguilar and-1 play then allowed Ginebra to take the lead for good, 77-73, before Thompson and Tenorio delivered timely hits to complete the come-from-behind win.
Alas and Oftana provided the one-two punch for NLEX with 16 and 15 points respectively but were not enough as the Road Warriors sank to a 2-2 record.