PBA Governors' Cup

Brownlee, Ginebra pull away late vs NLEX to nail 1-0 semis lead

Delfin Dioquino
Brownlee, Ginebra pull away late vs NLEX to nail 1-0 semis lead

RECUPERATING. Japeth Aguilar has missed four games due to a calf injury.

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Barangay Ginebra keeps NLEX scoreless for more than five minutes in the fourth quarter as it completes its comeback from a 16-point hole

MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra put on the clamps against NLEX down the stretch to claim a 95-86 win and a 1-0 lead in their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, March 23.

Breaking a 78-78 deadlock, the Gin Kings kept the Road Warriors scoreless for more than five minutes in the fourth quarter and rode on a 15-0 run as they completed their comeback from a 16-point hole.

Justin Brownlee paced Ginebra with 27 points, 16 coming in the second-half turnaround, to go with 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals.

LA Tenorio also produced all-around numbers in the win with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Scottie Thompson continued his stellar play with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists.

It was Thompson who sparked their fourth-quarter breakaway as he scored 4 straight points to give the Gin Kings an 82-78 advantage before he and the rest of the team tallied 11 more unanswered points.

Kevin Alas ended the NLEX scoring drought with a layup with a minute remaining, 80-93, but it was already too late for the Road Warriors to mount a fightback.

“Game 1 is absolutely crucial in a short series, whether it be a best-of-three or a best-of-five or twice-to-beat. Game 1 is very telling,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone.

A dampener, though, in the win was the abrupt exit of Gin Kings star Japeth Aguilar after he suffered a calf injury with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

The high-flying forward tried to block a Cameron Clark jumper but landed awkwardly, aggravating the minor injury he sustained in their quarterfinals series against TNT.

Ginebra, though, hardly encountered a problem on offense even without Aguilar – who averaged 23.5 points in the last two games – thanks in large part to Arvin Tolentino stepping up.

Tolentino scatted 8 of his 11 points in the third quarter, including back-to-back triples that pushed the Gin Kings’ lead to 67-58, as Ginebra entered the final salvo up 70-64.

Cameron Clark notched a game-high 30 points to go with 13 rebounds and 3 steals, but his stellar numbers alone were not enough for NLEX to win, especially after the Road Warriors crumbled in the second quarter.

Back-to-back Justin Chua and Philip Paniamogan baskets padded the NLEX lead to 16 points, 39-23, only for the Gin Kings to conclude the first half trailing by a single possession, 43-45, behind a 20-6 run.

Kevin Alas emerged as the only other Road Warriors player in double figures with 17 points to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists as the entire team shot a meager 18% (6-of-32) from beyond the arc.

The Scores

Barangay Ginebra 95 – Brownlee 27, Tenorio 19, Thompson 15, Tolentino 11, Standhardinger 10, Chan 7, J.Aguilar 4, Pinto 2, Onwubere 0, Caperal 0, Enriquez 0.

NLEX 86 – Clark 30, Alas 17, Semerad 8, Quinahan 8, Trollano 6, Paniamogan 5, Nieto 4, Chua 3, Rosales 3, Varilla 2, Ighalo 0.

Quarters: 23-29, 43-45, 70-64, 95-86

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.