Kings of the road: Ginebra pips Phoenix, grabs conference lead
CAGAYAN De Oro—Justin Brownlee scored 34 points for Barangay Ginebra and disrupted the final Phoenix Petroleum offensive that sealed a 101-99 Petron Saturday Special victory and gave the shorthanded Gin Kings the lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations at jam-packed Xavier University gym here.
The two-time champion import stripped the ball out of the hands of a driving Matthew Wright with just over two seconds remaining as the Kings won for the second straight time to rise to 5-1 while snapping the Fuel Masters’ impressive three-game winning streak.
Seeking to win this conference for the third straight year, Ginebra played without twin towers Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter and point guard Sol Mercado but more than that held its own against Eugene Phelps and the hot-shooting Wright.
Wright hit all five of his triple tries, the last from deep left corner that shoved the Fuel Masters to within 100-99 heading into the final 20 seconds. Brownlee hit a free throw with 15 seconds left and gave the Fuel Masters the chance to forge overtime or even win it.
Phoenix went to Wright, who seemingly had broken down the Ginebra defense only for Brownlee to tap the ball out of his hands when he went airborne with LA Tenorio grabbing possession to seal the Gin Kings’ fifth win in six starts.
Brownlee also had 15 rebounds and six assists and three locals finished in twin digits for coach Tim Cone, with Scottie Thompson coming off the bench to shoot 12 that went with 14 rebounds and six assists.
Wright finished with 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting overall, with Phelps adding 23 and 13 rebounds and Calvin Abueva scoring 17 and hauling down nine boards before leaving the game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer, which is also without cornerstone June Mar Fajardo, tries to go above .500 again when the Beermen battle formidable sister team Magnolia Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 6:45 p.m. with the Beermen to debut a new import in NBA veteran Kevin Murphy even as NorthPort seeks a first win when it slugs it out with TNT KaTropa at 4:30 p.m.
The Beermen will be coming off a loss to the Gin Kings last week and hope Murphy can fire them up.
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