Solomon Mercado notched 16 points and six assists as Barangay Ginebra snuffed the Star Hotshots, 73-62, on Monday in Game 3 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Forward Japeth Aguilar finished with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field on top of 13 rebounds and four blocks, while veteran Mark Caguioa contributed eight points to lead Ginebra.
Forward Joe Devance also returned in Game 3 after missing the last three matches because of foot injury. Devance posted six points and six rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
“We hit some shots when we needed to,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone during interview. “Both teams are bleeding for points. There are no open looks – guys are organized. I’m so impressed at how coach Chito (Victolero) has molded that team’s defense.”
“Good news is we’re back in the series. We’re not even but we’re back in. Alaska series took a lot from us.”
Playing with a sense of urgency, the Gin Kings established a 17-4 cushion after Tenorio’s jumper with 3:28 to go in the first quarter. Aguilar and Tenorio led the Gin Kings’ early assault resulting in a 21-10 lead at the start of the second quarter.
The Hotshots retaliated strong in the second period with a 19-12 burst narrowing the gap, 29-33, at the half. They sustained their onslaught in the third quarter, outscoring the Kings, 22-17, and seizing the lead, 51-50, at the start of last period.
But Barangay Ginebra closed the gap via a 23-11 run in the last quarter behind the combined prowess of Mercado and Aguilar to seal their win.
Ginebra narrowed the series to 1-2 with their victory.
Jean Marc Pingris led the Hotshots with 12 points and 18 rebounds.
GINEBRA 73 – Mercado 16, Aguilar 15, Caguioa 8, Tenorio 7, Thompson 7, Ferrer 6, Devance 6, Cruz 3, Marcelo 3, Ellis 2, Mariano 0, Helterbrand 0, Mariano 0.
STAR 62 – Pingris 12, Melton 8, Jalalon 7, Lee 7, Barroca 6, Sangalang 6, Simon 5, Maliksi 4, Reavis 3, Abundo 2, Dela Rosa 2, Brondial 0, Ramos 0.
Quarter scores: 21-10, 33-29, 50-51, 73-62.