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Johnson explodes for 47 as injury-plagued Ginebra outguns Kia for first win



A heated shootout between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Kia Carnival ended in a victory for the crowd favorites, who hit the right baskets in crunch time to take home their first victory of the conference, 105-98, Wednesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.

A 5-0 start care of their imports signaled the start of a good showing for the Carnival. Kia led by as many as six in the quarter, never letting the likewise sweet-shooting Ginebra take the lead. Four unanswered points from Ginebra import Orlando Johnson and a free throw from rookie bigman Rodney Brondial cut the deficit to two late in the quarter, 21-22, but the rally was stifled by a triple from Karl Dehesa. A three-point play from Dehesa in the final minute gave Kia the means to escape with the lead, 27-24.

The Gin Kings however kept their push for the lead alive, and just before the halfway mark, reinforcement Johnson exploded for four unanswered points to give Ginebra its first taste of the lead, 35-33. The relative peace at the venue was broken when Kia import Hamady N’Diaye and Ginebra guard Sol Mercado exchanged heated works, prompting a bigger verbal confrontation between the two squads. Both N’Diaye and Mercado were given technical fouls for the exchange, while Ginebra’s Dorian Pena was also given a penalty for using profane language. Powered by their import’s fiery display, Ginebra went 14-9 for the remainder of the quarter, leading by as many as nine, to take a 49-42 lead at halftime.

It was Kia’s turn to make a run for the lead, and around five minutes into the third half, came within a point, 51-52, following a couple of baskets from N’Diaye. Ginebra’s Johnson however responded with four straight points on the other end to widen the gap anew. After keeping their push alive, the Carnival knotted the game at 59-all thanks to a Hyram Bagatsing triple, with just three minutes left on the clock. But that was all Kia could do as the next minute saw triples from LA Tenorio and Josh Urbiztondo push the lead to ten, 69-59. At the buzzer, Ginebra led 73-65.

Kia’s gunners came up big in the opening minutes of the fourth, with Karl Dehesa, LA Revilla, and Alex Nuyles sinking baskets that forced a 75-all deadlock. Another basket from Revilla later gave Kia its first taste of the lead since the second quarter, but Ginebra’s Johnson answered with a basket on the other end to take back the lead. The next two minutes saw the diminutive guard engage in a shootout with the towering Ginebra import as the two squads battled for the lead. The two sides emptied all their barrels in a massive trade of salvos that lasted into the final two minutes of the game.

With under a minute left to play, Ginebra led by three, but another bucket from beyond the arc care of Karl Dehesa knotted the game with around 45 tics left on the clock. A turnover and a missed three from Kia in the next possession gave the Gin Kings the chance to widen the gap, a task which was carried out by Johnson, who sank two free throws to make it a two-possession game. Another wasted Kia possession paved the way for Urbiztondo to ice the win with two free throws with 16 seconds left on the clock. At the buzzer, it was Ginebra who walked away the win.

Orlando Johnson was named Best Player of the Game, with 47 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. LA Revilla led Kia with 20 points.

This is Ginebra’s first victory after three outings. Kia meanwhile slides to a 1-1 slate. Still on the Ginebra injury list are front court personnel Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter.

The Scores:

GINEBRA (105) – Johnson 47, Caguioa 16, Urbiztondo 11, Tenorio 10, Mercado 8, Tungalag 8, Brondial 3, Marcelo 2, Pena 0, Monfort 0, Helterbrand 0, Baracael 0

KIA (98) – Revilla 20, N’Diaye 19, Dehesa 19, Chang 10, Bagatsing 10, Nuyles 5, Ighalo 4, Alvarez 4, Thiele 3, Deutchman 2, Yee 2, Pascual 0

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