The Barangay Ginebra capitalized on head coach Tim Cone’s return to secure a spot in the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals after beating NorthPort, 100-93, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, July 17, 2022.
With a strong backcourt, the Gin Kings never turned back to claim their seventh win after 10 games following a two-game losing streak. They currently grabbed the solo third spot in the team standings behind 9-2 San Miguel Beermen and 8-3 TNT Tropang Giga.
While Cone’s wards guaranteed a top six finish, the NorthPort is on the brink of elimination with a 3-7 win-loss mark.
Digos City native Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra poured in 23 points on top of his 15 rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and three blocks.
John Pinto also put up a big performance for the Gin Kings, scoring 18 markers, including four three-pointers of his six attempts, six boards, and three assists as his teammate Jeff Chan chipped in 11 points, two assists, and two rebounds.
Ginebra power of the rest
The rest of the Gin Kings who also delivered for the crucial win were Japeth Aguilar (14) LA Tenorio (13), and Christian Standhardinger (9-10-6), for the team to move ahead of 6-3 Magnolia Hotshots.
A win will give them a share in the second spot with Tropang Giga but their inferior quotient will still relegate them to a lower seeding.
Meanwhile, Meralco outlasted league leader San Miguel Beer, 89-86, to also secure an automatic quarterfinals berth following 12 lead changes and 11 deadlocks.
Allein Maliksi sank 18 markers, including four treys, for the Bolts and he also grabbed eight boards and two steals while Chris Newsome and Aaron Black added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Black’s three-point jump shot in the last 50 minutes of the game lifted the Bolts to an 88-83 advantage but CJ Perez countered that with a trey of his own for the Beermen to cut the lead to two, with only 39 seconds left.
Allein Maliksi outperform
Maliksi’s first of two charity shots in the last nine seconds sealed the match for the Bolts as Beermen’s Simon Enciso missed a buzzer-beating three-point attempt.
Meralco holds a 6-4 record for fifth and will eye win No. 7 when they face winless Terrafirma on Thursday, July 21, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts, according to acting head coach Luigi Trillo, must win over the Dyip to secure their spot in the top eight going into the next round with a best-of-three duel with the third seed.
“We need to focus and put all our efforts on Terrafirma. We know that it’s not gonna be an easy game because, obviously, there’s no pressure on them,” Trillo said. “But if we win that (game) we cement what we wanted at this time, which is to be in the top six,” added Trillo. “Wherever we are, three to six, at least it’s not a twice-to-beat, it’s a best-of-three, and that’s all we could hope for.”
June Mar Fajardo top-scored for the Beermen with a double-double (21 points and 12 rebounds), his seventh in the conference. Other Beermen scorers were Perez (14), Marcio Lassiter (12), and Enciso (11), aside from reliever Vic Manuel (12).