Strong fourth quarter push propels Ginebra past TNT in season opener

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BOCAUE — Barangay Ginebra booked the first win of the 2019 PBA season after pulling away against TNT, 90-79, Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

The Gin Kings’ frontline stood tall in front of more than 23,000 fans, with Japeth aguilar and Greg Slaughter putting up 21 and 15 points, respectively.

Sol Mercado added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists for a game-high plus-21.

Ginebra sped off to a 6-0 start and never relinquished the lead, although they had to hold off some pesky TNT runs before pulling away to open their All-Filipino Cup campaign in style.

After trailing by 40-24 after a tough jumoper from Slaughter, TNT went on a 15-6 run—capped off by a corner trey from Don Trollano—to enter the half trailing by just seven, 42-49.

The KaTropa later threatened to wrest the lead away from Ginebra and even cut the lead to two, 55-57, before Aguilar and LA Tenorio restored order and give them a 63-57 cushion entering the final frame.

Ginebra then revved it up behind Slaughter and Scottie Thompson to erect an 81-66 lead midway through the fourth period.

Roger Pogoy paced TNT with 21 points on 7-for-20 shooting. He also grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. Jayson Castro added 17 points and 10 assists.

A stifling defensive game plan by Tim Cone and the Gin Kings forced TNT to shoot just 32.6 percent from the field. Ginebra was also able to dish out more assists, 26-17, and they dominated the paint by scoring 48 points on a 54.5 percent clip.

A tough matchup awaits Ginebra as they are set to face San Miguel on January 20, Sunday, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

TNT, on the other hand, can bounce back in their next tiff against Phoenix on Saturday, January 19, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

THE SCORES

GINEBRA (90) – J. Aguilar 21, Slaughter 15, Mercado 11, Thompson 9, Ferrer 9, Mariano 6, Tenorio 5, Devance 5, Teodoro 4, Cruz 3, Caperal 2, R. Aguilar 0.

TNT (79) – Pogoy 21, Castro 17, Trollano 15, Heruela 14, Reyes 6, Cruz 4, Williams 2, D. Semerad 0, Golla 0, Miranda 0, Carey 0.

Quarterscores: 28-15; 49-42; 63-57; 90-79.

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