MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra leaned on old reliables as they completed their return trip to the PBA Governors’ Cup finals with a 112-93 Game 4 semifinals ouster of the NLEX Road Warriors at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, March 30.
With the win, the Gin Kings completed a huge turnaround from a sixth-seeded finish in the eliminations all the way back to their third finals appearance in the last four years.
Superstar import Justin Brownlee had another game for the ages when his team needed him the most, and finished with a playoff career-high 47 points on an incredible 17-of-24 clip, and 6-of-10 from three, plus 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.
Veteran sniper Jeff Chan likewise stepped up amid multiple key absences from the roster with 20 markers on a 5-of-8 clip from deep.
After a 26-point first half, Brownlee just refused to ease up on his scoring onslaught, and scored 11 more in the pivotal third quarter, where Ginebra created a 15-point separation, 84-69, off his last jumper of the frame in the final minute.
That momentum swing, coupled with the usual raucous cheering of Ginebra fans in the background, was more than enough for the Kings to withstand Philip Paniamogan’s three-point barrage in the fourth quarter, and hold on for the 19-point blowout.
“Life sure is a lot easier with Justin Brownlee around,” said head coach Tim Cone after the game. “You could kind of see it coming because you could see the intensity he had in practice yesterday, and before the game, even at halftime. You knew that he’d have a big performance.”
On any other night, Cameron Clark’s 34-point, 12-rebound double-double would have been enough to tow NLEX to victory, but it was just not the Road Warriors’ conference to seize despite the second-seeded finish in the elims.
Don Trollano was the only other NLEX player in double-digit scoring with 15, while Kevin Alas was handcuffed to a 6-point, 6-rebound, 6-assist line on a frigid 2-of-13 clip.
With its title defense campaign saved once again, Ginebra now awaits the winner of the other semifinals bracket between the Meralco Bolts and the Magnolia Hotshots.
A series win for the Bolts will mean a rematch series with the Gin Kings for the second straight conference, while a win for the Hotshots will mark the first “Manila Clasico” finals in 25 years.
Barangay Ginebra 112 – Brownlee 47, Chan 20, Tenorio 14, Pinto 12, Standhardinger 10, Thompson 4, Tolentino 3, Devance 2, R. Aguilar 0.
NLEX 93 – Clark 34, Trollano 15, Chua 10, Paniamogan 9, Alas 6, Rosales 5, Ighalo 5, Soyud 4, Semerad 3, Quiñahan 2, Miranda 0.
Quarters: 22-22, 53-50, 84-71, 112-93.