MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra completed another one of its trademark comebacks and stunned Bay Area, 89-82, in Game 3 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, January 4.
Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson delivered down the stretch and came up with a bunch of clutch plays as the Gin Kings bucked their shooting woes to overcome a 14-point hole and gain a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Brownlee proved why he is the frontrunner for his third Best Import award by erupting for 19 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, including 12 points in a 15-6 run that knotted the score at 79-79 with under three minutes left.
The Dragons were still up 73-64 after a Glenn Yang layup before Brownlee – who also tallied 17 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals – took over as he scored and assisted on all 15 points during that sizzling run.
Best Player of the Conference favorite Thompson then picked up where Brownlee left off, converting a crucial putback and finding Jamie Malonzo for a three-pointer on the next two possessions to give Ginebra an 84-79 lead.
Thompson also put up a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals as the Gin Kings redeemed themselves after losing by 17 points last game.
“Justin upped his motor and Scottie went crazy and got a couple of unbelievable rebounds and we got on a roll,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone.
Andrew Nicholson showed the way for Bay Area with 23 points, 24 rebounds, and 2 blocks but left the game with 30 seconds remaining after sustaining what appeared to be a left ankle injury.
Nicholson landed on the foot of Malonzo during a rebounding battle and needed help leaving the court as he joined Hayden Blankley on the sidelines.
Blankley also suffered an early exit after fouling out with 5:30 minutes left, cutting short a solid performance that saw him post 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Kobey Lam backstopped Nicholson with 17 points and 6 rebounds in the loss, including the triple that gave the Dragons their biggest advantage of the game at 59-45 with under six minutes left in the third quarter.
The Gin Kings hopeful that made up most of the 15,004 in attendance were silenced as Bay Area held the upper hand for much of the game, but the crowd grew louder and louder as Ginebra chipped away at its deficit.
Pandemonium broke loose when Thompson skied over the 6-foot-10 Nicholson for the sensational putback that gave the Gin Kings an 81-79 edge – their first lead since the second quarter – with 1:26 minutes left.
Attracting the defense, Thompson then located Malonzo for an open trey to push their lead to 5 points before Brownlee and LA Tenorio took Ginebra home by sinking 5 free throws in the final 40 seconds.
“The crowd just kept on feeding us and feeding us and feeding us and we were hungry because we were not getting much early. So we really used that fuel from the crowd,” said Cone.
Malonzo finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds off the bench, while Christian Standhardinger tossed in 15 points and 4 rebounds in the victory.
Barangay Ginebra 89 – Brownlee 34, Standhardinger 15, Thompson 14, Malonzo 10, Tenorio 8, Pringle 5, J.Aguilar 3, Mariano 0, Gray 0, Pinto 0.
Bay Area 82 – Nicholson 23, Lam 17, Zhu 12, Yang 11, Blankley 10, Ewing 3, Ju 2, Liu 2, Song 2, Reid 0.
Quarters: 16-16, 35-37, 56-63, 89-82.