The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel blew a 25-point lead early, but managed to do enough in the end to repel the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 75-72, for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five semis series in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup.
Saturday night’s victory has moved the Gin Kings closer to the mid-season conference’s championship round. They have the chance to make their entry in Game Four on Monday, July 23, 7:00 PM at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The victory, moreover, preserved Justin Brownlee’s monster outing. The versatile 6-foot-5 forward produced 44 points — just two points shy of his career-best 46 points — along with 15 rebounds, six assists, and five steals.
“We got a little bit too Justin-reliant,” admitted Ginebra head coach Tim Cone. “We just didn’t respond well to what happened in the second half. That’s on us, that’s not on anybody else but us.”
Brownlee had been the driving force of the Barangay in the first half, as his exploits gave his side a 25-point lead in the second frame. He already had 25 in the half alone — two more points than what the E-Painters had in the half.
But the Elasto Painters just found their way back into the game. From a 10-point deficit with 3:33 to go in the final frame, Rain or Shine made a 9-1 rally — ended by Reggie Johnson’s lay-up — to knock within two, 72-74, with 9.8 seconds left.
“What a brilliant comeback by Rain or Shine. Coach Caloy [Garcia] got them ready at halftime,” Cone said. “We played a pretty game in the first half and then coach Caloy did exactly what I would have done – he uglied up the game. We just made a bunch of mental mistakes and held on by our fingernails.”
Rain or Shine had an opportunity to tie the ball game after LA Tenorio’s split from the charity stripe with 6.8 seconds remaining, but James Yap missed both of his three-point attempts inside the final four seconds.
“James got two cracks at it and he usually makes that shot. I know him. We’re very, very fortunate that he missed that shot,” exhaled the decorated mentor. “I’ve seen James take and make that kind of shot at the end of the game. He makes more than he misses.”
Tenorio had been the only other double-digit scorer for the Barangay with 13 points along with four rebounds and three assists. Scottie Thompson went scoreless, but he nearly had a double-double of 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Johnson led the Elasto Painters with 13 points and 22 rebounds. Raymond Almazan was a carom shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards, while Ed Daquiaog supplied 11 markers off the bench.
Yap, Game Two’s hero by playing a huge role in RoS’ finishing kick, only had nine points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Ginebra (75) – Brownlee 44, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Chan 3, Ferrer 3, Aguilar 2, Devance 2, Thompson 0, Caguioa 0, Mercado 0, Cruz 0
Rain or Shine (72) – Johnson 13, Almazan 12, Daquioag 11, Yap 9, Nambatac 6, Belga 6, Tiu 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 2, Washington 2, Borboran 0, Ponferada 0, Torres 0
Quarterscores: 24-10, 46-23, 61-41, 75-72