Justin Brownlee carried much of the scoring load for Barangay Ginebra in the first three quarters of its 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals opener versus Meralco, Tuesday evening.
The former Best Import already had 34 points in the game’s first 36 minutes, including 18 in the third quarter alone. He had to be at his best to keep the crowd darlings afloat in the match.
“I was just trying to take advantage on many openings I’ve seen early and throughout the game.”
But he became a marked man by Meralco come the final frame, as he could no longer buy a field goal.
That seemed like bad news for the Barangay, who went down by 10 points twice in the third chapter. Fortunately for them, though, veterans Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio came through.
Tenorio — who already had four fouls before the fourth quarter — and Aguilar came to the aid of the Gin Kings, first by leading a 10-0 run that gave them an 80-73 advantage with 7:55 remaining.
The Bolts still fought back and traded leads with Ginebra in the final minutes. They even had a chance to tie the game, but Aguilar blocked Allen Durham’s shot with 13 seconds left.
That huge block led to Brownlee’s trip to the free-throw line, which he did not waste. The crowd darlings then came out with the 91-87 victory to gain a headstart in the best-of-seven series.
Aguilar finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and three blocks, while Tenorio collected 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. They combined for 14 of the Barangay’s 23 points in the payoff period.
Brownlee, who top-scored for Ginebra with 38 points and 16 boards, remains proud of what the two had done. And he believes that they will definitely be major keys for Ginebra in the series.
“LA and Japeth, they just did a great job of keeping us in the game on the offensive end,” he said.
“I think if those guys continue to be aggressive and read the defense and take the opportunity, I think they’re gonna be great all series long,” he added. “Both of those players got a great skill set.
“Japeth is very athletic. LA can drive and shoot and set the team up. That’s what’s expected for them to play well.”