Barangay Ginebra overcame a sluggish start behind a spirited second half effort as the Kings shocked San Miguel Beer, 115-108 to draw first blood in their PBA Governors Cup semifinal series on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar kept the team alive on offense, before drawing the much-needed support from Sol Mercado, Scottie Thompson, Joe Devance and Mark Caguioa to turn the table against San Miguel, which led by as much as 12 points in the first half.
“In that first half, we looked totally overmatched. It looked like we’re not on the same court because they (Beermen) were just doing anything they want to do. It was quite frustrating and even disheartening,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, shortly after the game.
“We didn’t know how hard we had to play to win an important game like this against a big-time opponent like San Miguel, though that’s what we came out and talked at halftime, for the guys to raise the level of game, defensively and hustle, and suddenly they started gaining some confidence,” he added.
While Brownlee got his usual numbers after finishing with 39 points and hauling 16 boards, with Aguilar adding 22, Mercado had a huge offensive night in the second half.
The “Sol Train” banged in 15 of his 19 points in the last two quarters, while lacing his explosive night with three triples.
Devance added 12, including several mid-range shots, while Thompson opened his semifinal stint as a pro with a double-double effort of 11 points and 10 rebounds, along with six assists.
Starting playmaker LA Tenorio finished the game scoreless, just three days after erupting for a season-high 32 in Ginebra’s quarterfinal win over Alaska.
But Cone refused to make an issue out of Tenorio’s struggle on offense, saying his value goes beyond just scoring.
“I don’t worry about those things because first of all, you don’t get carried by the same guy from the previous night,” Cone said on Tenorio’s shooting woes where he went 0-of-9 from the field.
“He had an amazing thing going against Alaska. LA may not score a point and still be the most impactful player because of his ability to push the ball, find guys to score and I think thats what great point guards do,” he added.
“Tonight, it was about Justin, Joe and Sol stepped, up, Scottie had some big plays and mark had some big plays in the fourth, so it’s a team game. I don’t worry that much.” – Richard Dy
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GINEBRA 115 -Brownlee 39, Aguilar 22, Mercado 19, Devance 12, Thompson 11, Caguioa 8, Mariano 4, Marcelo 0, Tenorio 0, Cruz 0.
SAN MIGUEL 108 – Millsap 29, Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 20, Santos 15, Lassiter 14, Tubid 3, Espinas 2, Ross 0.
Quarterscores: 24-36, 46-57, 79-76, 115-108