Ginebra survives and sends Purefoods to 3rd straight loss
MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel stayed composed amidst a furious fourth quarter rally from the skidding Purefoods Star Hotshots to come away with a 96-87 victory in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday, February 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Mike Dunigan led all Gin Kings with 22 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the line inside the final 4:24, on top of 9 rebounds and two assists.
Local center Greg Slaughter also exploded for 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists to help Ginebra to a 3-3 record.
“Naglaro talagang mabuti mga players (My players played really well) and we did a good job especially on our defense and we were able to execute our plays,” head coach Ato Agustin said after the game. “Naging disciplined sila sa offense namin especially yung mga big guys namin.” (They were disciplined with our offense, especially our big guys.)
Point guard LA Tenorio also contributed 16 points and 6 assists off the bench, while an underperforming Japeth Aguilar posted his first double-double of the conference with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“I think yung focus nila nandito sa game talaga,” Agustin said. (I think they really had their focus on this game.)
Ginebra refused to panic despite a massive 22-8 Purefoods run to start the payoff period which effectively erased a double-digit lead that was as high as 16, 68-52, late in the third.
Joe Devance, who finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds, buried back-to-back treys to cap the Purefoods barrage and knot the count at 78-all with 4:43 remaining.
But Ginebra relied on its smallest player to get the job done.
The 5-foot-6 Emman Monfort, who was re-inserted in the fourth with 7 minutes left, stabilized the Gin Kings in the heat of the rally and successfully brought back momentum to his team’s side.
Inside the last 4 minutes, the former Ateneo Blue Eagle playmaker orchestrated a play that led to a Mark Caguioa baseline drive. He then forced a Hotshots turnover, and sank a long jumper to re-establish an 84-78 Ginebra lead with 3:18 left to play.
Dunigan, who poured 12 points in the final frame, padded on to the lead with a couple of free throws, 86-79.
Purefoods tried to complete their comeback from 16 points down but comebacking import Denzel Bowles was the only one fighting down the stretch, scoring 14 of his points in the fourth and 8 points in the last 2:24.
Bowles then missed two free throws with under a minute remaining, as Purefoods was sent reeling to its third straight defeat after a 4-0 start.
“Maganda yung binigay ni Emman (Monfort),” Agustin said. “I said don’t panic. They were able to make a run, so it’s our turn.” (Emman did well for us.)
Monfort, who started the game for the third time this conference, did work on both sides of the ball with his 9 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Ginebra was also +11 during his 30:36 minutes on the floor.
Former Best Import Bowles, who led Purefoods (then B-Meg) to a championship 3 years ago, debuted with 31 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 7 turnovers. Bowles replaced outspoken Daniel Orton who was fined Php 250,000 for his comments against officiating and KIA playing coach Manny Pacquiao.
PJ Simon and Mark Barroca added 14 points apiece as Purefoods suffered the setback just 4 days after a surprising 95-84 loss to expansion team KIA Carnival last Wednesday, February 18.
James Yap missed his second straight game owing to a swollen knee he reportedly sustained versus Rain or Shine in Dipolog City. – Rappler.com
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