Defending champion Barangay Ginebra gets a shot to defend its crown after dispatching TNT, 115-105, in Game 4 of their best-of-5 semifinals series in the PBA Governors’ Cup Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings arranged a finals rematch with Meralco starting on Friday at Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.
Justin Brownlee anchored Ginebra’s fourth-quarter surge to finish with 46 points, 10 rebounds, five assists to send the 11,891 in attendance, including legend Robert Jaworski, in jubilation.
The Gin Kings’ relentless pursuit finally paid dividends in the fourth quarter as the Brownlee-led 24-8 charge coincided with the KaTropa’s shooting going ice cold, with TNT firing a paltry 2-of-20 clip in the first eight minutes of the period.
Ginebra, then, took a 104-94 lead with 4:07 left to play punctuated by a three from LA Tenorio before Greg Slaughter iced the game with a huge slam to give coach Tim Cone his 32nd finals appearance.
“We were just fortunate that Glen Rice went out. But it was still a great game; they were making shots. It was quite a frustrating first half,” said Cone.
“But our guys came collected in the second half and started playing like we do.”
Tenorio chipped in 25 markers, seven assists, and four boards, Slaughter had 21 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks, and Sol Mercado added 11 markers, three boards, and three dimes in the Ginebra win.
With its back against the wall, TNT came out like a house on fire as it established an early 16-point advantage, 35-19, courtesy of a three from Anthony Semerad.
But that blaze was quickly doused after KaTropa reinforcement Glen Rice Jr. was ejected with 1:41 remaining in the opening frame after incurring a flagrant foul penalty one and a technical for throwing the ball to a fallen Kevin Ferrer.
Though Jayson Castro kept TNT in the driver’s seat and put his team up by 18, 72-54 in the third quarter, Brownlee had other plans as the import commandeered Ginebra’s 28-point third quarter outburst to cut the KaTropa lead down to six, 86-80, at the end of the third quarter and set up the close finish.
The Gin Kings’ 18-point comeback was the biggest comeback in the playoffs in seven years, or since the franchise crawled back from 20-points down to upend Alaska in 2010-11 Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
Troy Rosario topscored for TNT with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Castro carried the mantle with a near triple-double performance of 26 markers, nine assists, and seven boards in the losing effort.
GINEBRA 115 – Brownlee 46, Tenorio 25, Slaughter 21, Mercado 11, Aguilar 6, Ferrer 4, Caguioa 2, Thompson 0, Devance 0.
TNT 105 – Rosario 28, Castro 26, Pogoy 14, Semerad 12, Williams 10, Tautuaa 9, Reyes 4, Rice Jr. 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Nuyles 0, Hernandez 0, Seigle 0.
Quarters: 32-41, 52-66, 80-86, 115-105.
Ateneo’s Matt Nieto ‘relaxed’ amid pressure-packed moment