|Prince Caperal took over for the Gin Kings at the right time. PBA Images|
MANILA--Two nights after finding itself in deep trouble, Ginebra is heading to the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals after all.
The PBA's crowd darling booked the last playoff seat in the season-opening conference after taking down Phoenix, 95-85, in the play-in match on Saturday night at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Gin Kings, who were sent to the brink of early elimination by the Meralco Bolts on Thursday, got another shot at making the Final 8 following the NorthPort Batang Pier's rout of the Alaska Aces later in that night.
This time, Ginebra did not let the opportunity pass, holding Phoenix to just 38 points in the first half while opening an 11-point cushion at halftime.
Both teams picked up the pace offensively in the third quarter, but the Gin Kings remained on track of getting the eighth seed at the end of the quarter and even in the first seven and a half minutes of the fourth.
The Fuel Masters mounted one last push, going on a 12-2 run to cut the lead down to seven, 92-85, with 2:18 left, but the Gin Kings held them scoreless the rest of the way.
Prince Caperal had his best game so far this season with 19 points, four rebounds, and one assist as he successfully filled the void left by the injured Japeth Aguilar for Ginebra, which will now face top-seeded TNT, which only needs to win once to book a semifinal seat, on Wednesday.
Stanley Pringle added 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Christian Standhardinger bucked a seven-turnover outing by posting a double-double of 15 markers and 12 boards with two dimes and one block.
Jason Perkins made 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals for Phoenix, which was without big men Justin Chua and Vic Manuel.
Jake Pascual added 11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block.
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