In a game that almost slipped out of their hands, the Barangay Ginebra Kings rescued themselves with a last-gasp rally and upended Star Hotshots, 92-87, and took this conference’s Manila Clasico elimination round tussle Sunday evening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Both teams poured in the points at the first half before an LA Tenorio trey put the Gin Kings in the lead, which they kept throughout the entire first quarter. Ginebra led by as much as seven, but Marc Pingris made a deuce at the end of the canto.
Ginebra continued to maintain the lead, denying the opponents the chance to grab the momentum. With 1:08 left in the first half, the Gin Kings pushed their lead to 12 points, which was the biggest lead of the game. Import Othyus Jeffers dished out a pass to Japeth Aguilar who was fouled while slamming it home. Aguilar made the bonus to put his team up, 56-44.
At the third period, Mark Barroca suddenly caught fire to lead the onslaught for Star as they managed to wrest control of the game. The ace point guard waxed hot from behind the arc at perfect 4-of-4 shooting as Star got an eight-point lead going into the payoff canto, 74-66.
Barangay Ginebra then slowly crept into the lead before a Chris Ellis jumper tied the game at 77 with seven minutes left in the game. From that point, Star retook the lead and went up as high as six, with a James Yap jumper, 85-79.
The Gin Kings retaliated in the next few minutes and mounted late rally with several defensive stops. Aguilar stopped two attempts of the Star to keep the deficit at 2, 85-87, with a little over a minute left. With the Hotshots missing on the other end, Ginebra took advantage. Slaugther connected on two offensive put backs to end another chapter of this rivalry to the Gin Kings’ favor.
“To me this is a special game because we went down, did not panic, battled back, and were able to pull it out,” Tim Cone reflected about the game. Moreover, he was humbled by the fanfare that the rivalry still gets in saying, “it’s fun when (Manila Clasico) lives up to the hype. We only hit this at least once in a conference. Both teams played extremely well.”
Jeffers led Ginebra with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Aguilar had 15 markers and 2 blocks. Barroca paced the Hotshots, who had all their starters in double figures, with 16 points in 54% shooting.
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (2-2) will next face the Mahindra Enforcers on Wednesday, March 2 at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City. On the other hand, the Star Hotshots (1-4) play the Tropang TNT on Sunday, March 6 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra (92) – Jeffers 23, Aguilar 15, Slaughter 14, Tenorio 12, Caguioa 8, Ellis 8, Mercado 7, Thompson 3, Devance 2, Marcelo 0.
Star (87) – Barroca 16, Bowles 15, Simon 14, Pingris 13, Yap 10, Maliksi 9, Pascual 6, Reavis 2, Sangalang 2, Melton 0.
Quarterscores: 29-24, 56-48, 66-74, 92-87.
Photo by PBA Images
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