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Ginebra secures fourth seed after going past TNT

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Despite a late push from Talk 'n Text, Ginebra clinched a higher seeding in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs with a 91-84 win in the final game of the elimination round at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.

The Tropang Texters still put up a fight despite trailing by as much as 18, but crucial errors and timely Gin Kings baskets spelled doom for them.

Ginebra led, 76-58, with 10:06 remaining in the game, but Talk 'n Text slowly chipped the lead and came to within just four, 81-85, with 2:55 remaining.

The Texters got a crack at drawing nearer as Japeth Aguilar failed to control the rebound off a Slaughter miss, but Jayson Castro missed a triple at the other end.

Aguilar again failed to handle the ball properly on a reception of a Mark Caguioa pass, but Slaughter made up for his teammate's error when he blocked Castro's layup in the next play.

Aguilar made another blunder, this time muffing a wide open layup after the block, but the Gin Kings got the ball back when Troy Rosario threw an errant pass off the rebound.

L.A. Tenorio missed a corner triple in the next play, but Rosario failed to capitalize as he misfired his own three-point attempt.

Slaughter finally hit the dagger as Sol Mercado found him open inside for the hook shot with 50.5 seconds remaining for an 87-81 lead.

Harvey Carey made a crucial mistake in the next TNT play as he missed an open feed inside and muffed two charities off a Chris Ellis foul after grabbing the offensive rebound.

Tenorio then knocked down two of his own freebies to extend Ginebra's lead to eight, 89-81, with 33.9 ticks on the clock.

His team worked on defense in the ensuing possession as Ginebra forced Talk 'n Text to milk the clock before Rosario launched a needed triple with 17 seconds remaining.

Sol Mercado, however, gave TNT another chance as he missed two free throws of his own with 13 seconds left.

Rosario failed to follow up on his clutch shot as he muffed another trey, and Aguilar finally secured Ginebra's win with a pair of charities.

Slaughter tallied 27 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, and three blocks for the Gin Kings, which will take on the ninth-seeded Star Hotshots in the first phase of the playoffs with a twice-to-beat advantage. Their match will take place right on Christmas night at the same arena.

Scottie Thompson, on the other hand, played through a shoulder injury and still finished with two markers and three dimes.

Rosario finished with 22 points, ten rebounds, and two assists for the Tropang Texters, which fell to sixth place and will have to face the NLEX Road Warriors in another playoff pairing.

Box Scores:

Ginebra 91-Slaughter 27, Aguilar 17, Mercado 12, Devance 8, Ellis 8, Tenorio 6, Caguioa 5, Salva 4, Cruz 2, Thompson 2, Helterbrand 0, Marcelo 0

Talk 'n Text 84-Rosario 22, Fonacier 14, Castro 13, Carey 10, Williams 9, Reyes 6, Aban 4, Tautuaa 4, Miranda 2, Rosser 0, Seigle 0

Quarterscores: 25-21, 45-40, 70-56, 91-84

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