It went down to one final play, and finally, the playoffs cast is complete.
Needing a win to secure the eighth and last spot of the Governor’s Cup tournament, the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel survived the pesky NLEX Road Warriors squad team as Japeth Aguilar delivered the winning triple with one second remaining in a wild finish held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The first quarter went the way of the Road Warriors, who played as a team with nothing to lose, with Michael Madanly initiating his squad’s strong start as they led the rest of the period after Ginebra made the opening basket. NLEX ended the first up by eight at 29-21. Dave Marcelo and Eman Monfort converted on four jump shots to open up scoring in the second frame as a fast 9-2 start trim the Road Warriors’ lead to 31-30.
However, in less than three minutes, NLEX unleashed their own 9-0 counter with Kwame Alexander finishing it with a trey. The Road Warriors’ press defense worked as they maintained their double-digit gap against Ginebra. The Kings, on the other end, had a tough time converting inside as their bigs were clobbered and were forced to pass up shots.
Meanwhile, turnovers also played a big role for NLEX as they were able to run in transition, extending their lead to 14, 52-38 with a layup by Michael Madanly. On the other end of the floor, the Kings struggled making outside shots. In spite of that, they made a headstart to the second half as they finished the second canto on a 12-2 run with Orlando Johnson.
Carrying the momentum from the first half, Ginebra tied the game at 55 with LA Tenorio draining a triple. However, just like in the second quarter, Ginebra’s run was responded with an 8-0 counter by the Road Warriors capped by a Jonas Villanueva fastbreak. However in the last four minutes of the third, Tenorio nailed a three while Jiwan Kim finally knocked down a trey of his own after missing his first four attempts, to cap a 12-1 run and tie the game at 76.
But just like any run put up by Ginebra, NLEX responded once again with a 9-4 ending to the third period to silence the crowd and hang on to the lead. Two jumpers extended the NLEX lead to double digits with Madanly still stroking it confidently from the field. Sol Mercado provided five points while Monfort converted on a long two to cut the lead, 89-85 with eight minutes remaining.
As the game was on a frantic pace on the third, Kwame Alexander was assessed for his fifth personal foul with 6:33 left on the game clock, while Mercado nailed free throws to slice the lead down to a point. Two minutes later, Ginebra successfully tied the game at 96 as the crowd got involved again with Kim and Johnson converting on transition. After a series of wild and crucial exchange of baskets being showcased by the two teams, Kim and Tenorio caught fire late and gave Ginebra a slim lead for the first time after being up by 2-0 in the game.
Asi Taulava scored his team’s next three field goals against the bigs of Ginebra to keep his team within striking distance. With 31 seconds to go, Ginebra was still up 107-105, as NLEX sued for time. Taulava then made another putback to tie the game and left Ginebra the chance at the buzzer. After draining the game clock, Johnson found Aguilar on the left corner and the forward drained the big-time trifecta to win the game. Needing one final stop, KG Canaleta muffed his potential game-tying three that sent Ginebra on to the quarters.
Tenorio finished with 21 points including five triples, six rebounds and six dimes. Kim also played splendid with 16 markers after a slow start as he also made four treys to cap the game. Madanly played a productive 34-minute game with 36 points on an efficient 14-of-24 shooting in his team’s last game of the tournament.
Ginebra finished their elims with a 5-6 slate and finished eighth due to quotient. NLEX ends at 3-8. The win also eliminated the Kia Carnival, who were anxiously waiting for this game’s result as a Ginebra loss would send them on the next round.
The quarterfinals begin on Friday as Ginebra faces Alaska but with a twice-to-beat disadvantage, 7pm at the Big Dome. The first game will be played between the Star Hotshots and GlobalPort.
Ginebra (110) – Tenorio 21, Johnson 21, Kim 16, Slaughter 14, Monfort 11, Mercado 9, Marcelo 9, Aguilar 7, Brondial 2, Baracael 0
NLEX (107) – Madanly 36, Taulava 18, Alexander 12, Borboran 11, Raymundo 10, Canaleta 7, Cardona 2, Lingganay 2, Villanueva E. 2, Arboleda H. 2, Ramos 0, Wilson 0
Quarters: 21-29, 50-55, 78-85, 110-107