MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The 8-year dry spell is broken at last.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the league’s most popular ballclub, is back on top of the mountain as champion of the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup after withstanding a valiant stand by the Meralco Bolts, 91-88, in Game 6 on Wednesday, October 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After 8 agonizingly long years and a slew of disappointments, the Gin Kings clinched the franchise’s 9th title, a delayed follow-up to their 2008 Fiesta Conference championship.
Import Justin Brownlee delivered Ginebra to the promised land with the championship-clinching 3-pointer from the top of the key at the final buzzer, breaking the 88-all deadlock for the final time.
(WATCH: Justin Brownlee hits 3-pointer to clinch championship for Ginebra)
Brownlee’s big triple capped a long cerebral chess match between champion coaches Tim Cone and Norman Black and it completed the Gin Kings’ comeback from a slow 18-4 start and a 13-point deficit at the half.
Brownlee finished with a game-high 31 points on top of 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Rookie Scottie Thompson contributed 10 points, two assists, two steals, and a block off the bench.
Veteran guard LA Tenorio was named Finals MVP with his 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in the series. He had 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists in Game 6, including 14 points in a backbreaking 33-21 third quarter Ginebra rally to get back into the game.
Japeth Aguilar had 7 points and 9 boards, as Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand combined for 11 points.
Ginebra, in its 22nd finals appearance, won the best-of-7 series in 6 grueling, tightly-contested games and on the combined strength of its young guns and veterans.
Two-time Grand Slam coach Cone, who was appointed head coach of the Gin Kings just before this season, steered Ginebra to victory with the Living Legend Robert “Sonny” Jaworski in attendance and before a roaring crowd of 22,528 people.
It is Cone’s 19th PBA title overall and his 93rd finals triumph. Cone coincidentally achieved the feat on the 93rd birthday of his coaching idol, the late great Baby Dalupan.
Rookie of the Year Chris Newsome led the Bolts with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Best Import Allen Durham was shackled to just 15 markers on 7-of-15 field goals, along with 10 rebounds.
Reynel Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag added 12 and 8 points, respectively, as Meralco failed to go all the way in its first finals appearance in franchise history.
Ginebra (91): Brownlee 31, Tenorio 25, Thompson 10, Aguilar 7, Caguioa 6, Helterbrand 5, Ellis 4, Marcelo 3, Cruz 0, Devance 0, Mercado 0.
Meralco (88): Newsome 19, Durham 15, Hugnatan 12, Alapag 8, Faundo 8, Uyloan 7, Amer 6, Hodge 6, Nabong 4, Caram 3.
Quarter scores: 18-27, 32-45, 65-66, 91-88.
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