After four blowout games, the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series has finally seen a close game.
Scottie Thopmson delivered in the end to help Barangay Ginebra San Miguel escape San Miguel Beermen, 87-83, to lift his side closer in bagging the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup crown, Sunday night at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Thompson scored six points of Ginebra’s 9-0 finishing run to help his team move a win away from not only ousting SMB from their throne, but in winning the franchise’s first Commissioner’s Cup title since 1997 as well.
The fifth overall pick of the 2015 Draft finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists in a match that broke the trend of the previous four games, which all ended in blowouts and yielded an average margin of 30.3 points.
“Scottie’s getting more and more a complete player,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone of Thompson.
Reigning Best Import Justin Brownlee had 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and four blocks for the Barangay. LA Tenorio had 15 points and five assists, while Greg Slaughter provided 13 markers and 13 rebounds.
Ginebra actually had to come from behind to emerge with the four-point victory. They stared at a five-point deficit, 78-83, after June Mar Fajardo’s rare fastbreak dunk off a Chris Ross dime with 3:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Joe Devance though responded with a jump hook seconds later, and that sparked Ginebra’s blitz. Thompson then followed it up by scoring six straight points to give the crowd favorites an 86-83 lead with 23.1 ticks left.
San Miguel made a last-ditch effort to tie the game, but shots by Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and Chris Ross from beyond the arc missed. LA Tenorio’s split from the line with 2.5 ticks left shunned the door close for their rivals.
“I guess everybody got what they wanted, a close game. Couldn’t get any closer than that,” exhaled Cone.
The loss had wasted Renaldo Balkman’s 34-point, 20-rebound performance. Fajardo supplied 23 points and 13 boards, while Lassiter had 13 markers and four steals for SMB, who shot just 37 percent from the field.
Ginebra will look to clinch the title in Game Six on Wednesday, August 8, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Ginebra 87 – Thompson 20, Brownlee 18, Tenorio 15, Slaughter 13, Devance 8, Aguilar 8, Chan 15, Mercado 0, Cruz 0, Ferrer 0
San Miguel 83 – Balkman 34, Fajardo 23, Lassiter 13, Cabagnot 5, Ross 3, Standhardinger 3, Santos 2, Nabong 0
Quarterscores: 24-26, 40-40, 66-66, 87-83