Barangay Ginebra edged San Miguel in a defensive showdown and squeezed out a 75-72 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, June 24.
After a defense-oriented affair between the two teams all-game long, the Gin King pulled off the biggest stop in the final possession as Scottie Thompson did enough to bother CJ Perez’s layup attempt that could have sent the game to an extra period with four seconds left and seal the victory for Ginebra for a solo lead in the standings with a 4-1 record.
Christian Standhardinger took the scoring cudgels for Ginebra with a double-double performance of 20 points,10 rebounds and five assists while also outplaying San Miguel counterpart June Mar Fajardo who was limited to just six points although he grabbed 17 boards,
Thompson and Japeth Aguilar chipped in 15 points apiece while LA Tenorio added 11 markers as the Kings gave Ginebra head coach Tim Cone a fitting send-off before he flies to the US to join the Miami Heat coaching staff for the NBA Summer League.
For the multi-titled coach, it was Standhardinger’s defense on Fajardo that keyed the victory, especially after he singlehandedly limited the six-time MVP to a single-digit scoring.
“You can talk all you want about the numbers Christian put up but he didn’t get the Player of the Game because of his offense. He got the Player of the Game because of his defense on June Mar and the hustle in denying him, boxing him out,” said Cone.
“We didn’t get Christian much help at all and he was doing it all on his own. It was a tremendous defensive performance and we needed it because we were not hitting shots in the first half. We are not hitting anything,” he added.
After a first half that saw both squads figure in a defensive battle which resulted to a 33-all deadlock at the break — the second lowest scoring first half this season, the offense slowly picked up in the second half with the Kings delivering the first blow to build a double-digit spread, 58-48, after a Thompson layup.
SMB retaliated as Perez and Simon Enciso, who paced the Beermen with 17 and 18 points, respectively, caught fire in the fourth quarter to tie the game, 70-all, with 3:35 left in the game.
Mo Tautuaa and Japeth Aguilar then traded baskets before Thompson pulled down a huge offensive board which led to Standhardinger go-ahead basket with 1:31 left. Both teams came up dry in their next offensive sets before SMB’s final attempt was foiled by Thompson which virtually sealed the game for Ginebra.