BARANGAY Ginebra avoided another collapse, holding off San Miguel Beer, 107-99, to formally clinch a playoff berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night.
Two days after giving up a 16-point lead in their loss to Rain or Shine, the Gin Kings saw their early 20-point cushion against the Beermen almost disappear again, but showed better composure this time in a Philippine Cup Finals rematch that lived up to its billing down the stretch.
Justin Brownlee shone on both ends as usual, while LA Tenorio bounced back from a so-so performance as the Gin Kings tied their victims at 6-2.
“We caught them flat at the beginning and we carried that throughout the game, but our bigs got into foul trouble and suddenly we were playing on our heels,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “Good perseverance for our guys tonight.”
“And San Miguel needs these losses every once in a while because that gets them going,” he added. “They get one less and then they’re awesome again.”
Brownlee stuffed the stats sheet again, tallying 34 points, 12 boards, three assists, four blocks, and three steals in 42 minutes, bringing the Gin Kings home by scoring 15 of his output in the payoff period in the face of an SMB comeback.
Tenorio sparked the Gin Kings’ early breakaway, firing 13 of his 20 points in the first half where they built their biggest lead at 38-13 early in the second quarter before SMB embarked on its rally.
Scottie Thompson also came through for the Gin Kings, scattering 18 points, 11 boards, four assists, and three steals, while Joe Devance was the other double-digit scorer with 16 markers.
Charles Rhodes, Alex Cabagnot, and Arwind Santos led the fightback for the Beermen, who came to within three points, 90-93, following a Cabagnot triple with a little less than three minutes remaining in the game.
But Brownlee retaliated with five straight points, the first two on a left corner jumper before making three straight charities off a transition foul from Chris Ross, who complained that it should’ve been an offensive foul.
GINEBRA 107 – Brownlee 34, Tenorio 20, Thompson 18, Devance 16, Aguilar 5, Ferrer 5, Mercado 3, Marcelo 2, Cruz 2, Caguioa 2, Ellis 0
SMB 99 – Rhodes 26, Cabagnot 20, Santos 19, Fajardo 13, Lassiter 10, Ross 7, Espinas 4, Heruela 0, Semerad 0
Quarterscores: 31-15, 52-39, 80-65, 107-99