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Ginebra sinks TNT to set date with Star in quarters

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Supposedly playing the game to decide the standings, the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel emerged as the last winner of the 2015-2016 PBA Elimination Round as they scored a 91-84 victory against the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters on Sunday, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

A closely-contested first quarter ended 25-21 in favor of the Kings; five deadlocks and three lead changes had occurred. However, it was a mini 6-2 spurt in the dying seconds, capped by a bucket by Greg Slaughter, that gave Ginebra the slight edge.

With Slaughter still having made his presence felt underneath, Ginebra led by six at 29-23 with 9 minutes left in the first half. TNT countered by bringing in Mo Tautuaa, who had not been expected to play prior to the match. The Texters built a 13-5 scoring spree to take the lead momentarily. However, it was Ginebra’s 10-4 response that gave the Kings the lead at the break.

Ginebra pulled away in the third quarter, leading by as much as 14 markers. Despite missing three-pointers, the Kings’ transition and interior game were effective enough against TNT’s defense. By the opening moments of the last quarter, the Kings had increased their lead to 17, threatening to walk away for good with a seemingly blowout win. However, the Tropang Texters, through Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and Larry Fonacier, managed to claw their way back.

By the two minute mark, the frantic pace had led to Castro and Fonacier sinking triples to make it an 85-81 affair, still in Ginebra’s favor. Unfortunately for the Texters, Harvey Carey missed two crucial free throws, in addition to their next two heaves from downtown. On the other hand, LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar drained the necessary free throws for the win.

Despite already having held a twice-to-beat advantage prior to the game, Slaughter carried Ginebra with 27 points and 14 rebounds. After the game, he said “It’s a big game for us so we just had to come out. We have been preparing for the whole season and it’s time that we got momentum and hopefully carry on the playoffs”

Looking forward, Slaughter warned not to take Star for granted, saying “It’s Manila Clasico right there. They beat us pretty bad on the first game so we can’t take them lightly.”

At the end of the single-round elims, Alaska and SMB take the top two spots and will advance automatically to the semis. The no. 3 to no. 6 teams that will hold a twice-to-beat edge in the first phase of the quarters will be Rain or Shine, Ginebra, GlobalPort and TNT, while the bottom four of the playoff picture will be NLEX, Barako, Star and Blackwater. Mahindra and Meralco are eliminated.

PBA games will resume on Christmas Day at the Mall of Asia Arena. Global will face Barako at 4:15pm, which will be followed by Ginebra versus Star.

The Scores:
Ginebra (91) – Slaughter 27, Aguilar 17, Mercado 12, Devance 8, Ellis 8, Tenorio 6, Caguioa 5, Salva 4, Thompson 2, Cruz 2, Marcelo 0, Helterbrand 0
Talk ‘N Text (84) – Rosario 22, Fonacier 14, Castro 13, Carey 10, Williams 9, Reyes 6, Aban 4, Tautuaa 4, Miranda 2
Quarterscores: 25-21, 45-40, 70-56, 91-84

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