LA Tenorio’s generalship proved key yet again as Ginebra took care of business by finishing off Magnolia in four, 99-84, to book a return trip to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The decorated guard finished with 18 points, 10 of which he made in the first quarter to help the Kings set the pace towards a lopsided affair en route to coming back to the Last Dance of the tournament it last ruled in 2018.
He also added five rebounds and five assists as the crowd darlings booked their fourth Finals appearances in the last six conferences.
“We created a lot of open shots talaga within our offense because of our execution, kaya siguro nagkakaroon din ng opportunity for me to take the shot because it’s open — not only me but the other guards also,” Tenorio said.
Justin Brownlee led Ginebra’s well-deployed attack with 24 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists, and also did it on the other end with five blocks.
Japeth Aguilar finished with 19 points and eight rebounds for easily his best performance of the mid-season competition to date.
Scottie Thompson contributed 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists, while Jamie Malonzo supplied 10 markers, eight boards, and six dimes.
All the aforementioned had a hand in the Kings’ third-quarter breakaway. The quintet joined hands for a rousing 18-6 blitz that led to their biggest lead of the match at 24 points, 71-47, approaching the frame’s midway mark.
And when the Hotshots managed to trim the gap to just 12 early in the final period, Malonzo and Stanley Pringle were there to keep them at bay, before Aguilar pushed the lead back to 20, 98-78, with 2:18 left to play.
The Barangay managed to score the rout despite being a man down as Christian Standhardinger got thrown out barely six minutes into the match for throwing the ball to Magnolia import Nick Rakocevic.
“I’m just so thankful that we didn’t have to play a Game Five against this team,” said head coach Tim Cone. “These guys didn’t leave anything. They didn’t think about [what’s] beyond this game … we truly have great leadership.”
Ginebra’s entry marks the 15th straight conference an SMC team is in the PBA Finals, 17th in the last 18 and 22 in the last 24 since Alfrancis Chua became part of the conglomerate, per league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III.
Calvin Abueva led Magnolia with 14 points and six rebounds in the defeat. Rakocevic added 13 points and 13 rebounds while Jio Jalalon had 12.
The trio carried the fight as Paul Lee only managed to collect nine points apparently due to the effects of flu-like symptoms that caused him to miss practically the entire Game Three last Sunday at the Philsports Arena.
The Hotshots haven’t reached the Finals since the 2021 Philippine Cup title bout in Bacolor, where they lost to Chot Reyes and TNT in five games.
Ginebra 99 – Brownlee 24, J.,Aguilar 19, Tenorio 18, Thompson 14, Malonzo 10, Pringle 5, Gray 3, Pinto 3, Mariano 2, Standhardinger 1, Pessumal 0, R.Aguilar 0.
Magnolia 84 – Abueva 14, Rakocevic 13, Jalalon 12, Lee 9, Reavis 8, Barroca 7, Ahanmisi 6, Sangalang 6, Dionisio 4, Wong 3, Corpuz 2, Dela Rosa 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarterscores: 29-18, 53-41, 82-68, 99-84
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.