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Ginebra books trip to semis at Magnolia's expense

Justin Brownlee was a key factor in Barangay Ginebra's win over the Magnolia Hotshots, Tuesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to claim the first slot at the Commissioner's Cup semifinals. PBA Images
By Xy-Zha Cabanlong

QUEZON CITY - For the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, Game 2 of their best-of-three series against their bitter rivals Magnolia Hotshots was the best time to exemplify the "Never Say Die" attitude.

The Gin Kings edged out the Hotshots with a massive 26-point rout, 106-80, and became the first team to assure a spot in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Semifinals.

"I think we just had a little bit too much firepower for them [Magnolia] tonight. Certainly, this is a big surprise for us, we didn't expect this but we are really determined tonight because we have come and not played well in game 2 in the last couple of conferences against this team so it was really on us to come out," said Coach Tim Cone.

Like they have always wanted, Magnolia Hotshots started strong in the ball game, leading as much as 7 points in the opening quarter against the Gin Kings, proving that they are willing to force a do-or-die match.

However, LA Tenorio opened up the run for the Gin Kings with 5:57 remaining in the quarter that cu the lead down to a point, 13-12.

The first quarter ended with Magnolia leading by a breath; 24-23.

While the Hotshots made efforts to regain their momentum come the second quarter, the Gin Kings began to surge when Mark Caguioa scored back-to-back baskets, allowing the Ginebra to lead by 6 points; 32-26 with over eight minutes remaining in the 2nd period.

The halftime buzzer sounded with Ginebra leading by 8 points; 47-39.

Magnolia was not able to recover at the resume of play as the outside shooting worked for Ginebra in the third quarter.

Justin Brownlee opened the scoring for the Gin Kings that improved their advantage to 11 points; 50-39.

From there, the Gin Kings' lead blossomed despite the efforts of the Hotshots to score in every chance they get to touch the leather.

The third period closed out with Ginebra leading 27 points; 87-60.

"Nung third quarter, hindi kami nakapag-adjust. Kasalanan din namin, e. Kasalanan namin lahat [kung bakit kami natalo], wala kaming nagawa dun kay [Justin] Brownlee. Credits sa Ginebra, ganda ng nilalaro nila e, maganda yung depensa nila sa amin," said Mark Barroca in an interview after the game.

The curse against the Hotshots continued on at the fourth period, with the Gin Kings leading as much as 35 big points; 97-62.

After that basked made by Aguilar, Coach Tim Cone rested his starters and brought out his second unit led by Aljon Mariano to continue on with what is left in the ball game.

Despite winning by a huge margin, Coach Tim Cone still spoke of praises for the Hotshots, saying that their rival is a force to reckon with.

"Magnolia is a tough team to match up with," Cone mentioned.

Brownlee was named as the top performer of the match, finishing with 30 points, 16 of which all came from the 4th period. The Ginebra import also garnered 9 boards.

The Gin Kings are set to face the winner of the TNT-Alaska match that will be determined Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Follow her on Twitter: @_ichbinxyzha