B-Meg nips Ginebra on Simon putback
GAMES TOMORROW (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6 p.m. Rain or Shine vs B-Meg
PETER June Simon buried a tough follow-up shot with 2.5 seconds remaining as B-Meg nipped Barangay Ginebra, 74-72, last night and arranged a title showdown with Rain or Shine for the PBA Governors’ Cup before a sellout crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The game was tied at 72 when Markus Blakely unloaded a long baseline jumper that Simon grabbed and turned into the decisive putback that stunned the Gin Kings crowd and sent the B-Meg faithful into delirium.
Then Ginebra forward Kerby Raymundo, who spent most of his career with the B-Meg franchise, missed a triple at the buzzer.
“It was pure luck,” said B-Meg coach Tim Cone, who will be making his 25th Finals appearance as coach. “When I saw that jump shot go up, I was thinking overtime. But PJ (Simon) was there. It’s gratifying to beat such a tough opponent in Ginebra.”
The Llamados will move on to face the first-time finalist Elasto Painters in a best-of-seven series starting tomorrow.
B-Meg, which bagged the Commissioner’s Cup title two months ago, is looking for its first consecutive titles in franchise history.
Simon wound up with 11 points but most of them proved to be impact baskets in front of the 14,000-strong crowd that looked equally divided between the league’s two most popular teams.
His six straight points in the opening quarter paved the way for the Llamados to seize control in a game where both teams hardly gave each other room to breath, before he beat the third-quarter buzzer with a floater for a 58-57 edge.
Blakely finished with 22 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, that went with 11 rebounds and five blocks, while James Yap drilled in 16 that also came in crucial stretches.
No team led by more than three points in an enthralling final period with Yap and KG Canaleta trading clutch baskets down the stretch.
Canaleta gave the Gin Kings their last lead with a short jumper over Yap, 69-68, before answering a Blakely dunk by beating the shot clock with a triple to tie the game at 72 with 1:57 remaining.
Mark Caguioa’s struggles returned in the endgame as he missed two long jumpers inside the last two minutes. He had 14 points in his highest output against B-Meg in the conference, although he needed 19 attempts to reach that total.
“This felt like a true Game 7 against Ginebra with two great defensive teams playing. It’s gratifying to work this hard and get the win,“ said Cone. “We were bleeding for our points. Execution wasn’t great because their defense was great.”
B-MEG 74—Blakely 22, Yap 16, Simon 11, De Ocampo 8, Pingris 7, Barroca 5, Urbiztondo 3, Reavis 2, Villanueva 0.
GINEBRA 72—Bozeman 27, Caguioa 14, Canaleta 9, Raymundo 7, Hatfield 6, Villanueva 3, Ababou 2, W. Wilson 2, Helterbrand 2, Maierhofer 0, Mamaril 0, Cortez 0.
Quarters: 23-19, 41-36, 58-57, 74-72
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