January 29, 2023

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Ginebra draws first blood, takes Game 1 vs Bay Area in race-to-four finals series

6 min read

Barangay Ginebra gave its die-hard fans something to celebrate on Christmas Day after the Gin Kings drew first blood by routing the Bay Area Dragons, 96-81, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven championship series at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

Ginebra’s first five Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, Christian Standhardinger, and Jamie Malonzo, all played joined efforts to lead the Gin Kings’ crucial head start in the best finals.

Ginebra import Justin Brownlee delivered a double-double performance for the Gin Kings who draw first blood, 96-81, against the Bay Area Dragons in Game 1 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena Sunday, December 25. PBA PHOTO

Import Brownlee erupted with 28 points with 13 rebounds, while Thompson hustled hard in Ginebra’s third-period breakaway, and accounted for 14 markers, nine boards, six assists, two blocks, and one steal.

Standhardinger also figured in a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds as Tenorio scored his conference-high 22 points on top of three assists, three steals, and two boards.

Malonzo, for his part, boosted the Kings’ defense with 10 rebounds and three assists.

The Ginebra quintet played with intensity and excellent teamwork to the delight of their fans.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone said, “A Christmas Day game is extra special, and our guys treated it that way.”

He said they were lucky that Bay Area’s sweet-shooting Hayden Blankley couldn’t get his act together, often misfiring his shots.

The multi-titled coach added, “It is a special moment. It is a special time. People are coming either with their families or coming from their thing to come to watch us. They are here not just to watch us, but they are here to see the Philippines play.”

The win replicated the Kings’ feat against the Dragons during the eliminations.

Cone’s wards will eye to win Game no. 2 on Wednesday, December 28, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But it would take a lot of willpower and a proper mindset to achieve that, according to Tenorio, citing the busyness of the holiday season.

He said, “Mahirap because of all the distractions in this season. Tayong mga Pinoy, maraming gatherings in this season. Good thing, nakapag-focus kami and kept in mind that it is very important to get this game and set the tone (It’s hard because of all the distractions this season. We Filipinos there are many gatherings in this season. Good thing, we were able to focus and kept in mind that it is essential to get this game and set the tone).”

Although Tenorio spent Christmas Day away from his family for the first time, he still lived up to expectations and delivered big for Ginebra’s victory.

Thompson goes all out in the defense department to boost Ginebra’s 96-81 Game 1 win over the Bay Area Dragons. PBA PHOTO

“It’s a blessing na rin that my family get to spend a vacation, and while I wasn’t able to join them, I’m playing in the finals before a big crowd. Ginamit ko na lang motivation, sabi ko I might as well win this thing (It’s also a blessing that my family gets to spend a vacation, and while I couldn’t join them, I’m playing in the finals before a big crowd. I just used motivation; I said I might as well win this thing),” said Tenorio.

Meanwhile, Thompson put up a solid defense to help the Kings beat the league’s top-scoring squad.

“We made sure to limit their touches, especially their import. We stayed aggressive as we wanted this game badly for us to take control,” the Digos City native said

The Andrew Nicholson-led Dragons led at the start of the game before the Kings took control from the second canto to the final half. Nicholson had a double-double, drilling in 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

The trio of Brownlee, Standhardinger, and Tenorio led the rally, highlighted by the latter’s triple that allowed Ginebra to snatch the lead for the first time, 36-34.

With Nicholson made to sit down crucial minutes following his unsportsmanlike foul on Tenorio, the Kings kept their momentum down the stretch to seal the match.

Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio delivers big for Ginebra’s 96-81 Game 1 victory over the Bay Area Dragons. PBA PHOTO

Barangay Ginebra 96 – Brownlee 28, Tenorio 22, Standhardinger 16, Thompson 14, J. Aguilar 6, Pringle 5, Malonzo 3, Gray 2, Pessumal 0, R. Aguilar 0, Mariano 0.

Bay Area 81 – Nicholson 27, Yang 12, Zhu 12, Lam 11, Ju 6, Song 5, Blankley 4, Liu 2, Zheng 2, Reid 0.

Quarters: 22-25, 45-40, 72-64, 96-81.

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