Barangay Ginebra banked on a strong second half to score a 115-108 come-from-behind win over reigning champion San Miguel Beer in Game 1 of the best-of-five semifinals of Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday.
Import Justin Brownlee finished with a conference-high 39 points, 19 of which were notched during the second half, on top of 16 rebounds and two steals while Japeth Aguilar posted 22 points and seven rebounds.
“To tell you the truth in the first half, it looked like we were totally overmatched. That we don’t belong in the same court as they are. Our guys, we just haven’t been here in this situation for a while,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone during the postgame interview.
Guard Solomon Mercado posted 19 points and five assists, Joe Devance contributed 12 points while Earl Scottie Thompson had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds plus six assists also for Ginebra.
“We didn’t really know how hard we have to play in a big game like this with a tough opponent like San Miguel Beer. Our guys raised their game. It was great because certainly I didn’t have the confidence in the first half. It was a good win for us,” added Cone.
Import Elijah Millsap led the Beermen with 29 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists and two steals. June Mar Fajardo contributed 25 points and 15 rebounds while Alex Cabagnot had 20 points also for San Miguel Beer.
The Beermen shot more accurately than the Gin Kings overall in the field (51 percent-46 percent).
San Miguel Beer established a double-digit lead in the early part of the game, 28-14. It ended the first period leading 36-24, behind Fajardo’s 11 points. The Beermen kept the lead by halftime, 57-46.
The Beermen registered nine three-pointers in the first two quarters while Ginebra had only three.
But the Gin Kings retaliated in the third frame outscoring the Beermen, 33-19, en route to seizing the lead 79-76 as they enter the fourth period. Ginebra regained momentum through a 9-0 run ignited by Aguilar and Brownlee late in the third quarter.
The Gin Kings established their biggest lead, 92-80, in the early part of fourth quarter through the three-point shots of Mercado and Brownlee. Ginebra did not relent and dominated the Beermen for the rest of the payoff period.
TNT, Meralco plunge into semifinals action today
Talk ‘N Text and sister team Meralco will clash in Game 1 of the other semifinals series at 7 p.m. today also at the same venue
The Tropang Texters, who were coming off a 136-124 win over Phoenix Petroleum in the quarterfinals in Antipolo City on Saturday, emerged as the No. 1 team with 9-2 win-loss record after the elimination round.
“It’s a good match up. Match up-wise, both teams are okay,” forward Jeth Troy Rosario told The Manila Times. “They (Meralco) have a good import and we also have a good defensive import.”
The 6’7 power forward Rosario, who posted an average of 9.0 points and 5.4 rebounds after five games, is one of the leading candidates for the Rookie of the Year plum this season.
Rookie Chris Newsome is the other popular choice for the award with an average of 13.5 points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 13 games played.
Meralco, on the other hand, is coming off a back-to-back win against the Mahindra Enforcers during the quarterfinals. The Bolts took the twice-to-beat advantage after beating Mahindra on Wednesday.
Meralco defeated the Enforcers anew (105-82) on Saturday.
Besides Newsome, Meralco will also rely on import Allen Durham, Cliff Hodge, Jared Dillinger and veteran Jimmy Alapag in their battle against TNT.