Christian Standhardinger and Scottie Thompson conspired in the endgame as Ginebra repelled Meralco. 115-110, to move on the cusp of defending its PBA Governors’ Cup title, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The two BPCs provided the timely response after allowing the opposition to close within one from 14 down, sewing together seven straight points — capped by the do-it-all guard’s pull-up trey — to widen their lead to 105-97 with 2:16 left.
Best Import Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio then helped keep the Bolts at bay, and the Kings went on to take the 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The reigning champions, buoyed by the pro-Barangay crowd of 18,251, could close it out on Game Six on Wednesday, 6 p.m., still at the Big Dome.
“One of those games that could’ve gone either way,” said head coach Tim Cone. “But again, our guys made big shots, made big plays.”
Brownlee led the way with 40 points on 13-of-17 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-7 from deep. He also had 11 rebounds and five assists.
Thompson missed out on another triple-double with 19 points, 11 dimes, and nine boards. Arvin Tolentino made the most of his return to the first five with 16 points, as Standhardinger supplied 13 points and seven caroms.
Tenorio chipped in 10 markers and seven feeds as all five starters were heavily relied on by the champion mentor in the victory, which saw the Gin Kings shoot 51.3-percent from the floor, including 16-of-47 from the outside.
“But you know, I’m fortunate. I’ve got a team who understands things. They’ve been through the wars, they’re veterans,” said Cone. “They really know how to settle down, and they can think the game through.”
Tony Bishop, meanwhile, led Meralco with 30 points and 15 rebounds in the loss — its second straight since taking a 2-1 lead in the series.
Chris Newsome produced 27 points, six boards, and five assists, while Aaron Black reset his career-high with 25 markers for the Bolts.
Meralco actually led by four points in the second period but Ginebra wiped it out, with Jeff Chan sinking a triple to ignite a 15-2 blitz to give his side the 54-40 advantage with a little over a minute left before the break.
It took a while for the Bolts to regain their groove until that 15-2 blitz of their own behind Bishop, who was scoreless in the first, to knock within one, 98-97, with 4:31 left. That, unfortunately, proved to be their last hurrah.
Ginebra 115 – Brownlee 40, Thompson 19, Tolentino 16, Standhardinger 13, Tenorio 10, Pinto 6, Aguilar 6, Chan 3.
Meralco 110 – Bishop 30, Newsome 27, Black 25, Maliksi 12, Almazan 6, Belo 4, Hodge 2, Banchero 2, Quinto 2.
Quarterscores: 25-22, 54-43, 82-73, 115-110.
The Finals are also livestreamed on SMART Sports.