Ginebra remains unbeaten, deals Air21 its first loss | Inquirer Sports

Ginebra remains unbeaten, deals Air21 its first loss

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 10:49 PM May 27, 2014

Zacc Mason of Ginebra (light) vs Dominic Sutton of Air21 (dark). PBA IMAGE by Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines —Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Jeffrey Cariaso knew the game against Air21 would be a grind.

True enough, the Kings got the kind of challenge they were expecting in an 84-76 squeaker over the Express in the 2014 PBA Governors’ Cup Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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“I guess the first thing I wanna say is, it’s nice to be able to break out a win. We were struggling throughout the game, to go up and then catchup where it wasn’t easy,” Ginebra head coach Jeffrey Cariaso told reporters after his team remained the last team standing as undefeated at 3-0.

“Somehow, someway in the fourth quarter, we found a way to win,” Cariaso said. “I think those are the ones that teach you best lessons. Games like tonight against Air21 are games where you grow and get better. Even if we only grew and got better half an inch tonight then we’re happy with that,” Cariaso added.

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Zaccheus Mason led the way with 22 points, 16 coming in the second half, that went with nine rebounds and five assists while seven-foot Greg Slaughter, who has been flourishing so far under Caraiso’s triangle offense, added 12 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.

Slaughter completed a three-point play that pushed Ginebra’s lead to eight, 84-76, with 55.2 seconds left before Express import Dominique Sutton missed four free throws in the final 46.8 ticks.

“It’s a simple aspect of the game that can hurt you if you missed a lot of free throws and tonight were fortunate enough that they missed a few. It kept our lead and kept the pressure on their defense by missing their free throws,” Cariaso pointed out.

Air21 missed a ton at the charity stripe going just six-of-22 while Ginebra made 18 out of its 25 attempts.

Sutton paced the Express, who absorbed just their first defeat in three outings, with 22 points but unlike Mason, he slowed down in the second half as the Kings figured out a way to at least contain the bull-strong forward.

“Going into this game I expressed it to them how hard it is going to be because we are playing a very confident, a very energetic and a very hungry team, a team that went all the way to the semis last conference and is carrying it throughout this conference.”

And Cariaso wasn’t kidding at all as Air21, even with one of its best locals Sean Anthony yet to play since the semifinals last conference due to a foot injury, kept it close until the final buzzer.

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Mason gave the Kings an nine-point lead, 79-70, with under three minutes remaining but it wouldn’t take long before the Express cut the deficit down to four on a three-point play by Asi Taulava with still 1:33 left.

“We knew it was going to be tough and we’re just glad we were able to find a way.”

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TAGS: Air21, Barangay Ginebra, Ginebra San Miguel, Jeffrey Cariaso, PBA Governor's Cup
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