|Justin Brownlee dazzled anew for Ginebra as the team once again snapped San Miguel's chance for a grand slam. PBA Media Group|
By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--In 2017, San Miguel came close to a grand slam only that the team fell to a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinals and into a quick showdown with Ginebra, which walked away with a 104-84 blowout.
[Related Story: Ginebra spoils San Miguel's 'slam' bid, cruises to semifinals]
On Sunday night, the Barangay "slammed" the Beermen's grand slam bid again.
Fourth seeded Ginebra, once again with the twice-to-beat bonus, pulled off huge defensive stops in the end to eliminate fifth seeded San Miguel once again in the quarterfinal round of the season-ending conference with 100-97 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.
And that was when the Beermen, despite all the drama they had last week, were on track of sending their battle to a rubber match.
San Miguel waxed hot in the second quarter, scoring 35 points--although Ginebra sizzled offensively too with 31--to take a 58-54 lead at halftime.
The Beermen then tried to pull away in the third quarter, going on an 11-2 run late in the period to take an eight-point lead, 81-73, with 1:11 to go in the said period.
Come the fourth quarter, however, the Barangay went on an 8-0 run of their own to go up, 89-88, with 7:50 to play, setting up a wild finale.
After San Miguel had its last taste of the lead at 95-93 with 3:19 to play, Ginebra scored five straight points, a corner triple from Justin Brownlee and a breakaway layup from Stanley Pringle, to give the team a 98-95 advantage with 2:11 to go.
John Holland tried to keep San Miguel in the game after making two free throws with 57.1 seconds left that cut the lead to just one, 98-97.
He even had a chance to retake the lead after going for the fastbreak after getting the rebound off a Brownlee miss, but he lost control of the ball while going for the layup attempt, giving the Barangay the possession again with 25.2 seconds remaining.
Pringle then made two free throws off a Chris Ross foul that gave them the three-point cushion with 24.1 seconds left.
Terrence Romeo made the Beermen's first attempt at hopefully forcing overtime, but Brownlee swatted away his three-point attempt, leaving 13.1 seconds for them to map out another triple try.
Ross almost bailed them out as he got a good line at a long triple, but the ball hit the back rim and Pringle secured the game saving rebound.
Brownlee dropped 41 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, two steals, and three blocks for Ginebra, which will face either NLEX or NorthPort in the semifinals right after the Southeast Asian Games. Pringle added 24 points, three rebounds, and five assists.
Junemar Fajardo put up 24 markers, 18 boards, one dime, one block, and two steals, while Holland contributed 20 points, eight caroms, one dime, and two steals for San Miguel, which once again kissed its season treble bid adieu for the second time in three years.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno