Fans came in droves and braved through the heavy Christmas Day traffic hoping for a treat. LA Tenorio, Justin Brownlee and the rest of Barangay Ginebra made sure to deliver a big one.
The two provided the blades to the Kings’ double-edged sword which pierced through the Bay Area Dragons for a 96-81 victory and drew the first blood in Game 1 of the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, Dec. 25.
Tenorio stamped his class and displayed his veteran experience, resetting his conference high to 22 points – 14 of which came in the first half when Ginebra seized control of the contest and never looked back en route to the big win.
Brownlee finished what Tenorio had started, keeping the Dragons at bay in the last two quarters with 28 points – 18 in the second half – on top of his 13 rebounds and six assists. Christian Standhardinger added a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds while shadowing Bay Area import Andrew Nicholson all-game-long.
Scottie Thompson also provided the energy on both ends of the floor with his 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists including some highlight plays that saw the 18,242 in attendance serenading him with MVP chants.
Ginebra actually had to endure the initial attack from Bay Area which looked very much in control of the game after building an eight point lead, 34-26, in the second frame.
That, however, was the last time the Dragons had tasted the lead as the Kings went full throttle and unleashed a massive 15-0 run courtesy of Tenorio, Brownlee and Standhardinger to erase the deficit and build a double-digit spread, 41-34.
Bay Area, even after some scoring runs, never fully recovered from there as Ginebra provided some answers to its every attempt to cut the lead down to below five points. When the dust settled, it seemed like the Dragons lost their fire and were held to their lowest output in the conference.
One factor that caused the offensive struggles was the defense Ginebra did against Nicholson who saw a variety of defensive ploys thrown at him that limited his production to a conference low of 27 points. Interestingly, the NBA-caliber import’s lowest output in the conference was 28 during his first game in the PBA and was against Ginebra as well.
Zhu Songwei, battling through foul trouble, and Glenn Yang tried to provide support to Nicholson but could only muster 12 points each.