Gin Kings march on
Not on Tuesday night, when a seat in the Final Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup was at stake for his Gin Kings.
“I guess we just had a little bit too much firepower for them,” Cone told reporters after a 106-80 victory that gave the Gin Kings 2-0 sweep of their quarterfinal series experts had predicted would go the distance.
“We were really determined tonight because we … have not played well in Game 2s in the last couple of conferences against this team, so it was really upon us to change the narrative,” he added.
Justin Brownlee scored 30 points, 16 of them coming in a brilliant third-period performance where they almost doubled up on the Hotshots, 40-21.
“I think Justin was 0-for-6 and 1-of-5 in the last game, so it was like 1-for-11 in the series until the second half where he started getting things going. And when he did it, kind of broke it open for us,” Cone said.
True enough, Ginebra’s usual scorers—including its often-shelved aging star Mark Caguioa—got it going offensively, more than filling the hole left by its injured role players.
Caguioa, who was averaging 1.8 points in the conference, finished 12 to go with Japeth Aguilar’s 18, LA Tenorio’s 13, and Stanley Pringle’s 11, keeping the Kings’ bid for a title repeat intact.
“When we’re really clicking, we’re a tough team to stop—no doubt about it,” said Cone, as if sounding off a declaration for their upcoming foe, who could either be top-ranked TNT or hard-fighting Alaska.
Meanwhile, Blackwater mounted a good start and then put together an even better finish to score a 100-96 victory over tough-as-nails Rain or Shine to force a knockout match in their quarterfinal duel.
With one win each in the best-of-three series, the two teams battle again Thursday for a semifinals berth.
“They didn’t want to take a vacation yet,” said coach Aris Dimaunahan of the Elite, who are eyeing a franchise-first semifinal appearance.
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