Ginebra dethrones San Miguel, cops PBA Commissioner’s Cup title
There was no need for a Game 7.
Barangay Ginebra needed only six games to dethrone San Miguel Beer, 93-77, and win the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup title Wednesday night before a raucous crowd at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Gin Kings wrapped up what started out as a bizarre series with three straight victories to capture their first Commissioner’s Cup title in 21 years and their 11th overall. Ginebra also completed its comeback after starting the conference at 1-5.
“There’s so many who would’ve thought moments in this conference. We were 1 and 5 who would’ve even thought we made the playoffs?” said Kings head coach Tim Cone. “Who would’ve thought that we’d be all the way there? And then, when we got matched up against San Miguel, who would’ve thought that we’d be able to win this series and who would’ve thought we can win it in six games?”
“I’m amazed. I’m amazed at the resilience of our players. The fight, the battle, LA and his feistiness, Scottie and just his incredible energy just never has a downtime,” added Cone.
Best import Justin Brownlee played like a man possessed, unleashing 31 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks while guard Scottie Thompson had another dazzling performance with 12 points, 13 rebounds and five assists to take home the PBA Finals MVP.
Cone, already the winningest mentor in the league history, took home his 21st title—third with Ginebra—as head coach.
“For 24 years I was always trying to beat Ginebra, now I’m on the other side, I love being here,” said Cone as he addressed the Ginebra faithful at MOA Arena.
The Beermen lost their first Finals under coach Leo Austria, who had gone 6-for-6 in the championship before this series.
The Gin Kings overcame a slow start with a blistering third quarter where they took the fight out of the Beermen.
Brownlee was all over the floor in the third period, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. During one killer stretch in that pivotal period, Brownlee rejected Chris Ross, secured the defensive rebound then, scored to put his team ahead by nine.
And he was just getting started. He grabbed another defensive rebound then, hit a baseline fadeaway over Ross before setting up LA Tenorio for a backbreaking 3-pointer that made it, 60-46, with 1:10 to go in the third.
It wall Ginebra in the final frame as San Miguel just simply couldn’t get anything going. A layup by Joe Devance pushed the lead to 20, 83-63, with 4:33 remaining. The Ginebra roar grew louder with every Gin King play as the clock ticked away.
Greg Slaughter, who was injured when Ginebra lost to San Miguel in the 2017 Philippine Cup Finals, proved to be the game changer for the Gin Kings. He finished with 13 points and nine rebounds but more importantly, kept Ginebra from doubling Fajardo that prevented San Miguel’s shooters from getting open looks.
June Mar Fajardo led the Beermen with 29 points and 15 rebounds while Renaldo Balkman also had a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds.
Balkman was brilliant in the first half but was never the same after tweaking his left ankle in the closing seconds of the second quarter.
The Beermen couldn’t get anything from everyone else especially from their other key players in Ross, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Christian Standhardinger.
Ross, Lassiter and Standhardinger were held scoreless while Santos and Cabagnot combined for only 11 points on 5-of-26 from the field.
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