SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Barangay Ginebra made good use of its win-once incentive as it beat Rain or Shine, 81-73, to enter the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals first, Friday night at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
Stanley Pringle sparked the late-game pullaway, scoring four straight before Aljon Mariano and LA Tenorio joined the fray for a 9-0 run en route to an 81-71 lead with 55.7 ticks left that shut the door close on the Elasto Painters.
Pringle, checked almost the entire game, finished with 10 points. Mariano had 11 points and nine rebounds as LA Tenorio chimed in eight markers and eight assists on the night he reached 3,000 career dimes.
“I’ve said it before, he is our closer,” said head coach Tim Cone of the 33-year-old Pringle, a former scoring champion. “We put the ball on his hands down the stretch and we expect him to close for us.”
Japeth Aguilar led the Barangay with 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field, along with 11 rebounds, an assist, and a block in nearly 35 minutes of play as he played his best game yet in the bubble.
“He has worked really hard, doing extra running. If you watch him in the gym, he is always on the treadmill trying to rebuild his cardio. We really needed Japeth to show up tonight and he did a tremendous job,” Cone lauded.
Ginebra is now headed to its 10th Philippine Cup semis in the last 11 seasons, awaiting the winner of the Meralco-San Miguel series that will be determined after the rubber match on Sunday, Nov. 15.
The Bolts, the team that the Gin Kings have beaten in three of the last four Governors’ Cup Finals, erased the reigning, five-time champs’ twice-to-beat edge following their 78-71 win earlier to force sudden death.
“It is always nice to know who you’re going to play because you can start the preparation. Now we got to split preparation,” Cone said. “One of our coaches has been following San Miguel, another one has been following Meralco.”
Meanwhile, veteran forward Mark Borboran had 13 points to lead the Elasto Painters, who failed to replicate the gritty 85-82 overtime win they had versus the league’s most popular team last Oct. 28.
Ginebra (81) – J. Aguilar 23, Caperal 11, Mariano 11, Pringle 10, Tenorio 8, Thompson 7, Dillinger 4, Devance 4, Chan 3, Salado 0, Tolentino 0, Dela Cruz 0, R. Aguilar 0, Caguioa 0, Balanza 0.
Rain or Shine (73) – Borboran 13, Mocon 12, Nambatac 10, Belga 9, Yap 8, Onwubere 6, Wong 6, Ponferada 5, Rosales 2, Arana 2, Norwood 0, Rivero 0, Tolentino 0, Doliguez 0, Torres 0.
Quarterscores: 20-22, 40-37, 59-55, 81-73.