ANTIPOLO — Donning retro jerseys in honor of their fabled 1991 squad, the modern-day Ginebra team did not disappoint on Sunday night as it escaped past Meralco, 90-89, to cap off their grueling week in style before a mammoth Ynares Center crowd.
- Easier road for the Kings: Now standing at 8-2 after going for a perfect 3-of-3 in seven days, Ginebra now has a stronger chance to claim the number 1 seed and a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals stage. They are currently tied with Star on top of the standings.
- JDV’s heart: Down with a chest infection and hobbled by a toe injury, versatile forward Joe Devance refused to miss the ‘Retro Night’ and delivered big, making clutch plays anew for the Gin Kings. In the dying minutes, the Fil-Am veteran blocked Meralco import Alex Stepheson attempt then banked a follow-up floater to lift Ginebra to victory.
- Brownlee hiccup: The Bolts still had the chance to steal the thunder as energetic forward Cliff Hodge drilled a clutch triple to cut the lead to two then Ginebra super import Justin Brownlee botched two potential game-sealing charities. Disaster, however, struck Meralco as what could have been an easy fastbreak basket for Hodge in the last 6 seconds became a lousy turnover off a pass from Chris Newsome.
- Almost but not quite: Dropping to 7-4, Meralco lost its edge on the race for a top two finish. Rising guard Baser Amer led the way for the Bolts with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in a losing effort.
- Quote of the match: “We played them (Meralco) in the Finals two conferences ago. It was a battle then, and it was a battle tonight.” – Ginebra head coach Tim Cone
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