Third-ranked Ginebra Gin Kings arranged a Manila Clasico a PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals showdown with the Magnolia Hotshots after disposing of sixth placer NorthPort, 99-93, in Game 2 of their best-of-three quarterfinals clash at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Saturday, December 10.
Barangay Ginebra earlier took Game 1 with a 118-102 rousing win Wednesday, December 7.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said, “We have a few days to kinda get over this (quarterfinal matchup with NorthPort) and move on to the next.”
He, however, expressed that if they play the Hotshots in the same way that they did against NorthPort that night, it won’t be enough.
“But I’m concerned because we didn’t play that well tonight. We play like that against Magnolia and it’s not gonna be much of a Clasico. We gotta pick it up” Cone said.
His concern may have stemmed from the Gin Kings’ poor Game 2 start where the Batang Pier surged to a 29-11 lead in the first canto.
Barangay Ginebra fought back in the second period with a 30-18 exchange to keep within striking distance, 47-43. The Gin Kings, at last, took control after the break, outscoring the Batang Pier, 29-19, to finally snatch the lead, 72-66, in the third.
With only 2:46 left in the fourth canto, Ginebra was up, 97-85, but Kevin Ferrer and Arvin Tolentino sparked NorthPort’s 8-0 rally to cut the Gin Kings’ lead to just four (97-93).
Seasoned playmaker LA Tenorio, who tied James Yap in the fourth spot on the all-time list with 1,178 career triples with his fourth trey in the game, fired two charities in the final 20.5 seconds.
Cone said Tenorio was struggling the whole game.
“And all of a sudden bam! Bam! Bam! Without him we’re not gonna win,” the veteran coach said.
Scottie Thompson, for his part, said: “Nag-letdown kami nung huli and credit also to NorthPort; there’s no quit sa team na yun (We had a meltdown at the stretch and we credit that to NorthPort who seems to never quit).”
Thompson romped away with the Best Player of the Game honors with his near triple-double performance (15 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists). “We have to learn from this going to the semis,” said the Digos City native who finished with 15 points.
Ginebra import Justin Brownlee hit 20 markers on top of nine rebounds to lead Ginebra’s victory. Jamie Malonzo and Tenorio scored identical 14 points as Christian Standhardinger chipped in 13.
Former Barangay Ginebra players Jeff Chan, Tolentino, and Ferrer led the charge for Batang Pier. Chan canned 20 points while Tolentino and Ferrer added 18 baskets each. Robert Bolick and William Navarro contributed 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Ginebra 99 – Brownlee 20, Thompson 15, Tenorio 14, Malonzo 14, Standhardinger 13, Pringle 10, Gray 9, J.Aguilar 4, Mariano 0.
NorthPort 93 – Chan 20, Tolentino 18, Ferrer 18, Bolick 13, Navarro 10, Ibeh 7, Sumang 5, Balanza 2, Taha 0, Calma 0, Caperal 0.