The Barangay Ginebra Kings showed no signs of rust after the Lenten break, dominating the TNT Tropang Giga in the opening game of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
Led by resident import Justin Brownlee, the Kings proved too strong for TNT, winning 102-90 in front of an Easter Sunday crowd of over 11,580 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on April 9.
Ginebra’s prized import Brownlee was on fire from the outset, scoring 17 points in the first quarter and finishing with a game-high 31 points and 12 rebounds.
He got plenty of support from his teammates, with Jamie Malonzo, Christian Standhardinger, Scottie Thompson, and Stanley Pringle all making significant contributions.
Malonzo was the top scorer among the Ginebra locals, finishing with 21 points and recording an impressive triple-double with 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
Standhardinger had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Thompson and Pringle both hit clutch three-pointers to help the Kings stretch their unbeaten run in the playoffs to five games.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone admitted that he was taken aback by his team’s impressive performance after the long break.
Cone said, “To be totally honest, we don’t know if we did a good job of preparing for this game. I was questioning myself. I was questioning whether we should take Good Friday off. I was questioning whether if we’ve taken too much time or we didn’t work hard enough. There were a lot of questions.”
Despite his initial concerns, Cone was thrilled with the way his team executed their game plan and attributed their success to their focus and hard work during the playoffs.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure if we are going to play good tonight. But the guys came out all fired up, I thought, and set a good tone at the beginning of the game. I was kinda surprised, to be honest with you,” he added.
The Kings maintained their unbeaten run in the playoffs, extending it to five games while halting TNT’s streak as the top elims performer.
Ginebra’s 10-day rest did not seem to affect their sharpness and competitiveness as they held a comfortable 18-point lead against TNT.
The Tropang Giga struggled even more as they lost some of their key players, such as Kelly Williams, Justin Chua, and Poy Erram, who exited early due to injury or fouls.
Despite the efforts of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds, and Mikey Williams, who scored 23 points including five three-pointers, TNT couldn’t keep pace with Ginebra’s impressive shooting.
The Kings hit 15 of 36 three-pointers with Brownlee, Malonzo, Thompson, Pringle, Jeremiah Gray, and Aljon Mariano contributing to the team’s impressive shooting performance.
TNT, however, made just nine of 35 attempts from beyond the arc.
Ginebra is win puts them in the driver’s seat in the race-to-four-games series, hoping to maintain their perfect record in the playoffs.
Barangay Ginebra 102 – Brownlee 31, Malonzo 21, Standhardinger 16, Pringle 11, Thompson 10, Gray 6, Mariano 5, Pinto 2, David 0, Onwubere 0.
TNT 90 – Hollis-Jefferson 30, M. Williams 23, Oftana 16, Pogoy 6, Erram 4, Castro 4, Chua 3, Khobuntin 3, Montalbo 2, Varilla 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.