Nards Pinto earned plaudits for his contributions to Ginebra’s come-from-behind win over Magnolia in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night.
Numbers may tell otherwise, but the seasoned playmaker drew the admiration of no less than head coach Tim Cone for essentially becoming the antidote to the Hotshots’ dreaded combo of Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, and Jio Jalalon.
“We felt that Nards was a good matchup to Jio and Mark and Paul Lee,” offered the champion mentor after their 103-97 win at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“He’s played those guys tough in the past. He has the same kind of toughness and physicality that those guys play with,” added Cone.
Pinto was subbed back into the game at the tailend of the third canto, and was part of the Barangay’s fourth quarter crew that rallied to put them back into the match after being down by 15 twice during the penultimate period.
He had an assist and a steal during the Kings’ 16-6 run that tied things up at 89–all, then pulled off one of the most important stops down the stretch.
Game was tied at 97 with 1:53 remaining and Lee went for the go-ahead bucket, but PInto managed to stay in front of him despite an attempt to create some separation. He fired a fallaway jumper off the glass, but missed.
That big stop, later on, led to Justin Brownlee’s go-ahead stepback jumper with 1:19 left, proving to be the beginning of the end for Magnolia.
It was also the end of the remaining perfect run in the mid-season conference as the Hotshots entered the match with a clean 5-0 record.
“We just felt he was a good matchup out there, both defensively and offensively,” said Cone of Pinto, who finished with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 18 minutes and 27 seconds off the bench.
“He came in early to the game and he performed right away, and he earned his minutes tonight,” the owner of 24 championships added.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.