Ginebra kicks SMB out of top spot, seals QF berth

By Dugout Philippines

PASAY--Barangay Ginebra rebounded from a loss and pulled off a wire-to-wire 107-99 triumph over San Miguel Beer to formalize a playoff entry in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Sunday night.

Stopped on their tracks by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters two nights back, the Gin Kings got their act together again quickly, scoring a crucial redemption win to nail the fifth quarterfinals berth in the mid-season tourney.

LA Tenorio provided the spark in the early goings then Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thomson and Joe Devance picked up later on as Ginebra turned back SMB and again forced a tie between the two of them at 6-2, half-game behind frontrunners Meralco (7-2) and Star (7-2).

The Bolts, the Hotshots, the Kings, the Beermen and the TNT KaTropa Texters (7-3) head to a mad scramble for the Top Two in the homestretch of the one-round-robin elims. The first two placers earn a crucial twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.

After leading by as many as 20, the Kings actually had to weather numerous SMB uprisings, the last after the Beermen came to within three at 90-93 with 2:42 left to play.

Brownlee took over from there and bailed the Kings out of trouble with a clutch short baseline jumper plus two free throws to touch off a steady Ginebra windup.

It was a tense game also marred by a tense moment among the Kings’ and Beermen’s fans in the gallery near the end of the game.

The MOA security crew prevented the commotion from getting out of hand.

The Kings survived early fouls by Japeth Aguilar and his eventual exit with his sixth and last foul with 3:03 left to play. Aguilar struggled with just five points on 2-of-6 shooting. But Ginebra couldn’t be denied with the big games of Brownlee, Thompson, Devance and Tenorio.

Brownlee produced 34 points and 12 rebounds in a double-double game while Thompson had his own double-double numbers with 18 markers and 11 boards.

Thompson actually was the first to complete a double-double in snaring his 10th carom in the third.

Tenorio played a key role in sparking their early breakaway. The heady guard scored 10 points in their 27-8 start before the Kings eventually took the opening quarter at 31-15 and the half at 52-39.

The Beermen narrowed down the gap within nine at 52-61 in the third before the Kings created another separation, making it 80-65 going into the final canto.

Still, the Beermen waged a fight to the very end.

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