MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Import Justin Brownlee dropped a conference-high 39 points with 16 rebounds and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel sank the San Miguel Beermen, 115-108, for an early 1-0 lead during the best-of-5 semifinals in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup on Monday, September 26, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings also had plenty of local heroes in the exciting, fast-paced game with Japeth Aguilar contributing 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Sol Mercado had a 19-point output off the bench, including the triple that gave his team a 6-point cushion after San Miguel cut the once 12-point lead down to 3 nearing the final two minutes.
Joe Devance added 12 points and 7 boards as Scottie Thompson created for Ginebra in the final frame, with his unselfish play that led to Mark Caguioa scoring all 8 of his points off of Thompson finding him beneath the ring during that stretch.
On one of those good finds, Thompson dropped a no-look pass to the waiting Caguioa and Ginebra established a 92-80 advantage with 8:39 to go. The rookie guard finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists.
But it was Brownlee who led Ginebra's fourth quarter scoring surge with 9 points to stave off the hot-shooting San Miguel. His huge 3-point play with 1:21 remaining put the Gin Kings safely ahead by 111-102 as they completed a comeback from a 26-39 deficit in the second quarter.
"In that first half it looked like we were totally over-matched. We looked like we didn't deserve to be on the same floor or court that they were on," head coach Tim Cone admitted.
"They were just doing anything they wanted to do and they were doing it with such ease. It was quite frustrating and even disheartening."
Here's the entire play that led to a Brownlee 3-point play for the 111-102 Ginebra lead with 1:21 to go #PBASemis #SMBvsGIN #PBA2016 pic.twitter.com/oiH0pDBQqn — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) September 26, 2016
Believing his players have grown far too unfamiliar with semis play after missing the final 4 in 3 years, Cone gave his team a stern halftime talk and by midway in the third quarter the locals had awoken.
"The guys came out and raised the level of their game in many ways, defensively, offensively, and hustle and finally got things going their way. Finally they got some confidence."
Elijah Millsap tallied a triple-double of 29 points with 14 rebounds and 11 assists while June Mar Fajardo had 25 markers and 15 boards to take advantage of the absence of injured Ginebra big Greg Slaughter.
Alex Cabagnot fired 3 triples in the fourth and finished with 20 points as Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Game 2 of this series is on Wednesday, September 28.
Ginebra (115): Brownlee 39, Aguilar 22, Mercado 19, Devance 12, Thompson 11, Caguioa 8, Mariano 4, Marcelo 0, Tenorio 0, Cruz 0.
San Miguel (108): Millsap 29, Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 20, Santos 15, Lassiter 14, Tubid 3, Espinas 2, Ross 0.
Quarter scores: 24-36, 46-57, 79-76, 115-108.