THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings remain alive in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup after staving off outright elimination with a gutsy win in Game Three of their best-of-five semifinal series with the TNT KaTropa, 125-101, last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
On the brink of exiting heading into the game following two straight narrow losses, the Kings showed feistiness amid a do-or-die setting to cut their series deficit, 2-1, and extend the semifinal engagement.
TNT made it tough for Barangay Ginebra early on but the latter showed better control and command as the game progressed to run away with the win.
Barangay Ginebra got off to a good start, staying ahead of TNT throughout the opening frame en route to a 34-28 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The KaTropa went on a 5-0 blast to begin the second period to come within one point, 34-33, inside the first minute.
But the Kings responded with an explosive 22-2 run to establish a 21-point lead, 56-35, by the 4:24 mark.
While Barangay Ginebra was seemingly on its way to blowing open the game, TNT answered back with a 12-0 haymaker to cut the Kings’s lead to nine points with less than two minutes to go.
The score settled at 61-47, with Barangay Ginebra on top, at the halftime break.
Taking inspiration from the presence of Barangay Ginebra legend Robert Jaworski, considered as the main architect of the “never say die” spirit the franchise has become known for, in the dugout during the break, the Kings came out aggressive to start the third with import Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar setting the tone.
The Kings outscored the KaTropa, 9-2, in the first few minutes, which they would eventually use to establish their biggest lead at that point of 24 points, 76-52, with 7:42 minutes to go.
With import Joshua Smith riding the bench because of “shoe problems,” TNT desperately tried to control the slide but eventually saw its deficit go wider from the halftime lull, 96-74.
Sensing that the tide has shifted immensely in their favor, the Kings spent much of the payoff period putting the finishing touches and cruised to the win.
Mr. Brownlee finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds for Barangay Ginebra.
Scottie Thompson had 17 points while Japeth Aguilar had 15.
RR Garcia led TNT with 16 points while Mo Tautuaa had 15 markers.
Mr. Smith only had four points and seven rebounds in just nine minutes of play.
“Coach just said to us to loosen up. Not t play loose though but have fun and enjoy. Being the number one seed we put much pressure on us,” said Mr. Brownlee, named player of the game, of the mindset they had entering Game Three down 0-2.
“We are looking to push this series to Game Five but we have to do it one game at a time,” he added.
Game Four of the series is tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.