MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra came up with a bunch of crucial stops late to outlast Magnolia, 87-84, in Game 1 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, December 14.
Jamie Malonzo churned out 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 steals to power the Gin Kings, who seized control of the best-of-five series by holding the Hotshots scoreless in the final two minutes.
Shrugging off the ejection of import Nick Rakocevic in the third quarter, Magnolia stayed within shouting distance and trailed 84-85 with 2:40 minutes left after a Paul Lee three-pointer.
But that was the closest the Hotshots got as Ginebra extended their lead to 3 points off a Christian Standhardinger jumper and forced its foes to miss a couple of triples and cough up back-to-back turnovers the rest of the way.
Magnolia gained a final shot at an equalizer when Jio Jalalon stole the ball from Malonzo with under 30 seconds left only to witness Barroca bungle his three-point attempt.
A pair of missed free throws from Gin Kings import Justin Brownlee seemed to have left the comeback door ajar for the Hotshots, but Standhardinger secured the win by hauling down the offensive rebound as time expired.
Brownlee struggled against the vaunted Magnolia defense, finishing with a conference-low 11 points and a game-high 7 turnovers.
Nonetheless, the two-time Best Import made his presence felt in the other departments with 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals as Ginebra gifted head coach Tim Cone a fitting present on his 65th birthday.
Scottie Thompson chimed in 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in the win, while Standhardinger posted 14 points and 6 rebounds off the bench.
Although the Hotshots stayed competitive even without Rakocevic, they missed the offensive production and rebounding provided by the Serbian, who averages 23.1 points and 17.4 rebounds, particularly down the stretch.
Incurring a technical foul in the first half, Rakocevic got the boot with six minutes left in the third quarter as he got slapped a flagrant foul penalty 1 for tripping Standhardinger.
Rakocevic tallied 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals before his exit.
Lee led Magnolia with a team-high 21 points, Calvin Abueva netted a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Aris Dionisio tossed in 12 points in the loss.
Ian Sangalang added 10 points and 9 rebounds for the Hotshots, who lost to the Gin Kings for the second straight time after winning all of their last four Clasico encounters over the last three years.
Barangay Ginebra 87 – Malonzo 21, Thompson 16, Standhardinger 14, Brownlee 11, Pringle 8, Tenorio 6, J. Aguilar 6, Gray 3, Mariano 2.
Magnolia 84 – Lee 21, Dionisio 12, Sangalang 10, Abueva 10, Dela Rosa 7, Jalalon 6, Barroca 4, Corpuz 4, Mendoza 0, Reavis 0, Wong 0, Laput 0.
Quarters: 24-22, 45-44, 70-67, 87-84.