Barangay Ginebra’s cohesive and experienced team emerged victorious in the first leg of the PBA 3×3’s new season.
Led by Donald Gumaru, Kim Aurin, Ralph Cu, and Ralph Salcedo, the Gin Kings showcased their chemistry and skill by completing a perfect title run over six games at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay.
In an intense showdown against perennial rivals San Miguel Beer, Ginebra capped off an unbeaten run of six games with a thrilling 19-17 overtime triumph. Gumaru, the match’s hero, delivered a booming corner two-pointer in extra time, finishing with a team-high eight points.
He made three two-point shots, supported by Aurin’s five points, five rebounds, five assists, Cu’s four points and three steals, and Salcedo’s two points.
The victorious quartet, who previously played in the PBA on Tour, claimed their second gold medal after securing Ginebra’s breakthrough win in Leg 3 of the Season 2 Third Conference.
“It’s very memorable, and we’re happy because we’re still together this season,” shared Cu in Filipino, reflecting on their success.
Ginebra, topping Pool C with an unblemished 3-0 record, reached the finals after defeating Pioneer Elastoseal in the quarterfinals (19-16) and Terrafirma in the semifinals (17-13).
It was a heartbreaking conclusion for the San Miguel Beermen’s Ken Bono, Marvin Lee, Chester Saldua, and John Apacible, who squandered a 17-16 lead in regulation and missed their opening two-point attempt in overtime.
SMB, who eliminated top seed TNT (22-14) and No. 2 Cavitex (18-10) en route to the finals, settled for the runner-up position and a prize of P50,000.
The Braves’ Tonino Gonzaga, Dominick Fajardo, Jorey Napoles, and Ken Ighalo secured the bronze medal and a reward of P30,000 after defeating the Dyip’s Jordan Rios, Red Cachuela, Ken Duremdes, and Jason Tan with a score of 21-15.
The Ginebra and San Miguel showdown featured an intense battle with 11 deadlocks throughout the game. Saldua forced the final tie at 17-17 with a drive, leaving 19 seconds on the clock. In the overtime period, Aurin missed two potential game-winners but quickly redeemed himself with a clutch defensive rebound off Bono’s missed shot. Aurin then made a pinpoint feed to Gumaru at the left corner, where he confidently sank the game-winning shot.
“In overtime, first to score two points, then I found an open spot and shot it. I had confidence because we practice that every day, and it paid off,” said Gumaru, reflecting on his pivotal moment.
Ginebra’s triumph in the first leg sets a promising tone for the season as they build on their success and continue their winning streak in the upcoming competitions.