The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel finally put an end to the three-game losing streak that cost them the chance at an automatic semi-final berth, outgunning the formerly no.1 Alaska Aces, 101-92, Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
LA Tenorio, criticized for sub-par play earlier in the season, led the charge for Ginebra, scoring 21 points and dishing out four assists against his former team.
The Aces had the hotter start in the first quarter, opening the contest with a 7-2 rally. Alaska went on to lead for most of the quarter, before a 13-2 rally later in the quarter spurred by a couple of big baskets from team captain Tenorio saw Ginebra overtake the Aces for a 27-18 lead. The Gin Kings managed to close out the quarter with the lead, 28-22.
Amidst flaring tempers and hard hacks, the Ginebra lead ballooned to as many as 11, 38-27, early in the second period. But the Aces were able to rise to the occasion in the latter half of the quarter, powered by big baskets from JVee Casio and Calvin Abueva. A series of defensive stops and successful free-throws from Abueva and RJ Jazul gave Alaska the means to retake the lead shortly before halftime, 48-47.
Alaska held on to the steady lead in the third quarter, subjecting a trigger-happy Ginebra to more suffocating defense. Another momentum change however took place with around three minutes left to play, as a 6-0 spurt gave Ginebra back the lead, 63-62. The Gin Kings closed out the period still in possession of the lead, 73-69.
Finally finding a way through Alaska’s defense, Ginebra managed to widen the gap by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter, and held on to a 10 point lead down the stretch. With a minute left on the clock, the Gin Kings still led by a sizeable margin, 95-85. Dondon Hontiveros managed to inject some life into the Alaska campaign, sinking a breakaway three to cut the lead to seven, but two free-throws by Mac Baracael at the other end extended the lead back to nine, 97-88, with less than 40 ticks on the clock. The Aces suffered another setback after top gunner Casio was nearly knocked unconscious after a collision with Baracael, but the collective anxiety at the arena subsided when Casio was able to stand up on his own feet after being nursed to health on the ground. A couple more free-throws and a slam from Japeth Aguilar proved to be the icing on the cake for Ginebra.
Ginebra improves to 6-4, while Alaska slides to 8-2, solo second as of Tuesday night. Solo first at the top of the standings as of this writing are the San Miguel Beermen at 8-1. The Aces need to defeat the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, their opponent on Friday, December 5, in order to protect their bid for a top two finish and an outright semi-final berth.