Barangay Ginebra posted a convincing 91-67 triumph over Star Hotshots to force a deciding Game 7 in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinals on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
After a close first half, the Gin Kings went to birthday celebrant Joe Devance in pulverizing the Hotshots in the third quarter with a devastating 24-15 bomb followed by a huge effort from Solomon Mercado and Jervy Cruz in the fourth quarter.
Mercado, who piled up 12 of his 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field in the last period plus five rebounds and four assists, led Ginebra’s 29-13 salvo in the final period together with Cruz’s seven fourth quarter points breaking the Hotshots’ heart.
The Star Hotshots found no answer to Ginebra’s impressive shooting performance in the last canto, allowing the series to get tied at 3-3 at the end of Game 6. The Gin Kings are coming off an 80-89 loss in Game 5 last Friday.
“It’s really really tough, it seems we have the energy today,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone during the post game interview. “Basically, Game 7 is anybody’s game, whoever comes out and have a better night is going to win.”
“My guys have shown great resilience and resolve the whole conference. Joe (Devance) has been an inspiration for us in that third quarter.”
Playmaker LA Tenorio sizzled with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals also for the Gin Kings. Devance, who turned 35 on Sunday, notched all 14 points in the third quarter, while Japeth Aguilar added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Down by 6-17 going into the second period, Tenorio and Aguilar merged for 18 points in the last five minutes of first quarter to help the Gin Kings seize the advantage at the start of second period, 25-22.
But Jean Marc Pingris and the Hotshots fought back in the second frame to regain a slim lead heading into halftime 39-38 before collapsing in the second half.
Devance’s back-to-back treys and a lay-up gave the Gin Kings a 52-48 lead with 5:21 to go and Barangay Ginebra closed out the third quarter with a blitzing 10-4 run helping them to establish a 62-54 cushion at the start of fourth canto.
Cruz, before being penalized by a flagrant foul penalty one for hitting John Rodney Brondial in the last four-minute mark, scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter highlighted by two baskets and a three-point play to hand Barangay Ginebra a 69-57 edge with still 8:10 left.
From thereon, Mercado delivered the needed points to widen up the gap and the Hotshots could not recover.
Raymon Jamito’s basket put Ginebra up to its biggest lead, 91-65, witnessed by the 18, 062 crowd with only 38 ticks remaining before the final buzzer sounded.
Jean Marc Pingris scored 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks to lead the Hotshots.
GINEBRA 91 – Mercado 21, Tenorio 19, Devance 14, Aguilar 11, Cruz 11, Ferrer 6, Taha 3, Jamito 2, Thompson 2, Helterbrand 1, Ellis 1, Caguioa 0, Mariano 0, Marcelo 0.
STAR 67 – Pingris 14, Barroca 13, Maliksi 9, Lee 8, Ramos 6, Melton 4, Jalalon 4, Reavis 4, Sangalang 3, Brondial 2, Abundo 0, Dela Rosa 0, Simon 0.
Quarter scores: 25-22, 38-39, 62-54, 91-67