Outside shooting key as Ginebra targets commanding PBA Finals lead
MANILA, Philippines–Barangay Ginebra has enough experience to know that a rollercoaster series presents a difficult challenge.
“It could be a pivotal game for us if we could get it,” Justin Brownlee said as Ginebra aims to put a stranglehold on the PBA Governors’ Cup finals when it battles TNT in Game 4 on Sunday, hoping to take a commanding 3-1 in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tip-off is at 6 p.m. with so many storylines expected to unfold: Which team starts out hot? Who will shoot better from the perimeter? Who will perform better, Brownlee or Tropang Giga counterpart Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? And can Poy Erram keep his composure well enough to keep TNT in the series?
Ginebra regained control of the lead in the best-of-seven affair two nights earlier with a 117-103 win behind a franchise record 18 threes and strong plays from Jamie Malonzo and Stanley Pringle.
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone praises Stanley Pringle and the rest of the team for stepping up after a rough Game 2 loss marred by Justin Brownlee's offensive struggles. | @jonasterradoINQ pic.twitter.com/fWthE1fchu
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) April 14, 2023
The two were key in backstopping Brownlee, who also delivered after being hounded by TNT’s defense in Ginebra’s Game 2 defeat. Brownlee finished with 29 points and made three out of five three-point attempts.
“We need to do a better job defending their three-point shooters,” said Tropang Giga coach Jojo Lastimosa.
Coach Tim Cone would have a lot to say about that, especially since he senses a trend at this point of the series.
TNT, which thrives on hitting the long ball, reached double digits in the last two games of the Finals—15 in the Game 2 and 11 in Game 3. The Tropang Giga were in the hunt for a win in Game 3 only to run out of gas in the fourth quarter.
“Sounds like that’s the recipe for success in this series—who shoots the ball well,” Cone said.
The players seem to understand that.
Pringle, Malonzo, Brownlee, and Scottie Thompson have been actively making shots from beyond the arc while Mikey Williams’ recent surge from downtown has evoked memories of his explosive showing in the 2021 Philippine Cup Finals, the last time TNT won a championship.
“Hopefully we can come out aggressive, set the tone and get away with the win,” said Brownlee. “It will be big for us being just a couple of days off after that game.”
Game 5 will be played on Wednesday, which Ginebra will like to turn as the first of three chances to lift the Governors’ Cup trophy for the third straight time.
Hollis-Jefferson is keen on helping TNT keep Ginebra away from the eight-ball in Game 4 while Erram will be under the microscope after expressing his frustration over a heckler who went too personal when he shouted insults about his mother.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, aware of the incident, has pleaded for fans to be more careful with what they shout at opposing players despite the heated nature of the series.
Game 4 starts after the league reveals the Best Player of the Conference winner and Best Import awards.