BARANGAY Ginebra came in full force Saturday and completed its mission improbable with a 115-95 win over TNT in their PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson took turns leading the sixth-seeded Gin Kings' surge that took full form from late in the second quarter on as they completed their rise from a twice-to-win handicap and into the best-of-five semifinals that start Wednesday.
Sixth-seeded Ginebra's emphatic follow up to its 104-92 win in the duel's opener last Wednesday also gained for it some measure of revenge against the same team that ousted it in the quarterfinals of the last Philippine Cup.
For winning coach Tim Cone, beating a team like TNT twice makes the win more memorable. "It's really special," said the 23-time champion.
"I've only done it a few times in my career and so it's always super special to win a twice-to-beat disadvantage," added Cone. "To find a way to do that, it's really, really hard. The odds are way against you - and against such a huge opponent as TNT."
Foremost among those who made sure Ginebra would get to face either NLEX or Alaska in the next round are Brownlee, who finished with 29 points, 18 rebounds, and seven assists, and Aguilar, who added 26 points and seven boards.
Also playing major roles are Thompson, who flirted with another triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Tenorio, who scored 22 points with the last of his four triples sucking the momentum out of the Tropang Giga's uprising that brought the latter back from a 56-79 deficit to within 82-96.
A triple by Mikey Williams and a free throw by Kelly Williams further cut the deficit to 86-99, but Ginebra let loose another 16-6 barrage to make it a safe 115-93 difference, only 52 ticks left.
In all, the Kings made 47 of 86 shots from the field, including 9-of-22 from beyond the arc, and also lorded it over the boards, 55-36.
After missing his first four shots from the field, Mikey Williams still finished with 17 points to lead third-ranked TNT, which drew only 14 points, four rebounds and five assists from new import Leon Gilmore III, who replaced the reportedly injured rebounding demon Aaron Fuller.
Cone said all those lucky breaks made the win possible. "We had a lot of good fortune that shined on us," he said. "Fuller apparently got hurt, from what we hear, and they brought in an import who apparently has been here a while. But there's a lot of difference being in practice shape and game shape. Midway in the second quarter he was cramping up.
"Then we shot the ball really well tonight. It made the game a lot easier when you're making shots."
That trend became more apparent right in the closing minutes of the second quarter when Brownlee sank a buzzer-beating jumper that capped a 10-2 run and gave Ginebra a 59-48 lead at the break. (NC)
Ginebra 115 - Brownlee 29, J.Aguilar 26, Tenorio 22, Thompson 17, Standhardinger 10, Pinto 7, Chan 4, Ayaay 0, Enriquez 0, Caperal 0.
TNT 95 - M. Williams 17, Gilmore III 14, Castro 12, Erram 11, K.Williams 10, Pogoy 9, Rosario 7, Khobuntin 5, Montalbo 4, Cruz 3, Reyes 3, Marcelo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 25-29, 59-48, 96-74, 115-95. (PBA)
(Photo credits to: PBA)