Ginebra escapes Rain or Shine in 4 games to reach finals
MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra banked on a balance attack this time around to advance to its 4th finals in the last 6 conference.
After relying on Justin Brownlee's 44-point game in their Game 3 win, the Gin Kings had 4 players in double figures to finish off Rain or Shine, 96-94, in 4 games of their best-of-5 semis series at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday, July 23.
Greg Slaughter finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists and Joe Devance chalked up 19 points, 6 assists and two steals as Ginebra booked a best-of-7 finals date against sister team San Miguel.
While the two big men carried the scoring load, it was the backcourt duo of LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson who willed the Gin Kings to triumph.
Tenorio scored 5 of his output in the final 3 minutes – highlighted by a floater that gave Ginebra a 95-90 lead with 39 seconds left – while Thompson hauled in two emphatic rebounds in the final two minutes and made the game-sealing steal.
"I'm so relieved we don't have to play a Game 5 against this team. I'm so relieved. What a battle, what an incredible battle," said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone.
Tenorio chipped in 16 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals and Thompson added 6 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals as the Gin Kings returned to the mid-season conference finals for the first time in 2016.
Brownlee was limited to 12 points – his lowest scoring output in the series – but still flirted with a triple-double after tallying 17 rebounds and 8 assists.
With Brownlee cooled down, the Elasto Painters erased a 14-point deficit to take a 90-88 lead off a Gabe Norwood jumper with 2:29 minutes remaining.
But that was the last time Rain or Shine held the upper hand as Tenorio drilled in a triple in the next possession for a 91-90 Ginebra advantage – a lead that stood until the final buzzer.
The Elasto Painters trailed by two points after Jeff Chan split his free throws, 94-96, and had a chance to sink either a game-winning or game-tying bucket with 1.4 seconds remaining only to witness Thompson steal the ball off the inbound.
Reggie Johnson had monster numbers of 22 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and two blocks but those were not enough for Rain or Shine, which has not played in the finals for two years, to force a rubber match.
Raymond Almazan wound up with 13 points and 6 rebounds, Jay Washington and Mark Borboran added 11 points apiece and Yap had 10 points in the losing effort.
Game 1 of the San Miguel-Ginebra finals is on Friday, July 27, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra (96): Slaughter 19, Devance 19, Tenorio 16, Brownlee 12, Chan 9, Thompson 6, J. Aguilar 6, Caguioa 4, Mercado 3, Ferrer 2, R. Aguilar 0, Mariano 0
Rain or Shine (94): Johnson 22, Almazan 13, Borboran 11, Washington 11, Yap 10, Norwood 8, Tiu 7, Ponferada 4, Nambatac 3, Daquioag 3, Belga 2, Ahanmisi 0
Quarter scores: 25-20, 47-40, 73-67, 96-94