MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra needed every bit of Justin Brownlee’s 44 points to eke out a nail-biting 75-72 Game 3 win over Rain or Shine in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, July 21.
The Gin Kings almost squandered a 25-point advantage after the Elasto Painters mounted a furious 4th-quarter rally but had just enough gas left in the tank to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 series.
Brownlee, who was two points shy of his career-high, shot an ultra-efficient 14-of-19 from the field and finished with 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
But late in the 4th quarter, it looked like Brownlee’s effort would go down the drain as Rain or Shine, which trailed by 41-61 after 3 quarters, trimmed its lead to single digit and almost sent the game to overtime.
Down by 11 with 3 minutes left, the Elasto Painters erected a 9-0 spurt – highlighted by a Beau Belga triple with 31.9 seconds left and a Reggie Johnson bucket with 9.8 ticks remaining – to make it a two-point game, 72-74.
LA Tenorio split his free throws in the next possession to keep the comeback door ajar for the Elasto Painters. However, James Yap muffed back-to-back triples that would have sent the contest to an extra period.
“It got to be a real grind out kind of game,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone. “We just made a whole bunch of mental mistakes and just held on by our fingernails.”
The Gin Kings were in full control in the first two quarters and led by as much as 25, 43-18, thanks to Brownlee’s 25 first-half points.
Tenorio was the only other Ginebra player in double figures with 13 points to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists while Greg Slaughter added 8 points and 5 boards.
Despite not scoring, Scottie Thompson made his presence felt in the win with 10 rebounds, 8 assists and two steals.
Johnson paced the Elasto Painters with 13 points, 22 rebounds and 4 assists but had trouble putting the ball in the hoop throughout, missing 14 of his 19 shot attempts.
Raymond Almazan added 12 points and 9 rebounds and Gabe Norwood chipped in 11 points in the loss.
Game 4 is on Monday, July 23, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Barangay Ginebra (75): Brownlee 44, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Chan 3, Ferrer 3, Aguilar 2, Devance 2, Thompson 0, Caguioa 0, Mercado 0, Cruz 0
Rain or Shine (72): Johnson 13, Almazan 12, Daquioag 11, Yap 9, Nambatac 6, Belga 6, Tiu 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 2, Washington 2, Borboran 0, Ponferada 0, Torres 0
Quarter scores: 24-10, 46-23, 61-41, 75-72
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