SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Scottie Thompson towed Barangay Ginebra to the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Finals after frustrating Meralco anew, 83-80, in their winner-take-all semis clash Friday night at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
The do-it-all guard drilled a corner triple off a Prince Caperal dime with only half a second remaining to break the 80-all deadlock and to earn the right to face TNT Tropang Giga in the best-of-seven championship round.
Thompson finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists to bring the storied franchise back to the all-Filipino finale after three years.
“it was amazing for Scottie. Scottie deserves that shot. He deserves all the recognition, all the laurels. He deserves it because there’s nobody who works harder than him. I’m really happy for Scottie,” said head coach Tim Cone.
Cone was as proud of the unselfishness of his wards that led to the booming triple. The play, he said, was originally made for Stanley Pringle but the Bolts anticipated the move, and he gave it to Caperal.
The sweet-shooting big man was ready to pull the trigger from the left wing but Cliff Hodge got to him, leading to him making the extra pass to Thompson at the left pocket that then led to his Justin Brownlee moment.
“The play was designed for Stanley, and Stanley gave it up to Prince, and Prince gave it up to Scottie, and Scottie hit the shot. I’d like to think that that’s where we’re all about, that unselfishness,” Cone said.
That marked the second time in their last four playoff meetings that Meralco got beaten by a triple. The first, of course, was in Game Six of the 2016 Governors’ Cup Finals, where Brownlee’s trey ended Ginebra’s eight-year title drought.
“Of course, the first championship with the Justin shot, that’s the crème de la crème. But this one is right there close to it. And again I’m just so happy for Scottie,” said the league’s most accomplished mentor.
Pringle top-scored for the Barangay with 22 points, along with eight rebounds. LA Tenorio finished with 14 points and five boards, while Japeth Aguilar supplied 12 markers, eight caroms, and three blocks.
The three veterans were instrumental in helping Ginebra overcome a 71-65 deficit with 6:30 remaining in the fourth, a hole they got into after sophomore forward Bong Quinto powered a 9-2 run for the Bolts.
Tenorio had actually given the Gin Kings an 80-77 cushion following a perfect trip to the foul line with 17 seconds to go, but Reynel Hugnatan responded by coolly sinking a triple to tie the game at 80 with 14.5 left.
Thompson’s heroics then came into play moments later. Chris Newsome could only heave the ball from halfcourt afterward, as the league’s most popular team celebrated the nail-biting victory.
“From a coaching standpoint, it’s better to be lucky than good. And I just feel really lucky tonight. For Meralco, they battled so hard and we just seemed to find a way to make big shots,” said Cone.
Ginebra now has the chance to end its 13-year title drought in the Philippine Cup against the flagship MVP Group franchise in the race-to-four Finals series that begins this Sunday, Nov. 29, at 6:00 p.m.
Newsome led Meralco with 15 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Quinto and Cliff Hodge had 14 points apiece, while Hugnatan and Allein Maliksi chimed in 12 markers each in another heartbreaking defeat.
Barangay Ginebra (83) – Pringle 22, Thompson 20, Tenorio 14, Aguilar 12, Caperal 5, Mariano 5, Devance 2, Dillinger 3, Tolentino 0, Chan 0.
Meralco (80) – Newsome 15, Hodge 14, Quinto 14, Maliksi 12, Hugnatan 12, Jackson 4, Almazan 4, Amer 3, Black 2, Jamito 0, Pinto 0.
Quarterscores: 17-14, 33-31, 55-59, 83-80.