Barangay Ginebra San Miguel inched closer to a finals return after escaping TNT KaTropa, 106-103, in a thrilling Game Three of the best-of-five Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals on Friday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
The victory propelled the Gin Kings to a pivotal 2-1 lead in the series, needing only one win on Sunday to book a return trip to the Governors’ Cup finals which they won last year.
Joe Devance scored 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks to lead Ginebra which also got 19 points from Greg Slaughter.
Justin Brownlee tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds while Scottie Thompson also had a double-double of 17 points and 12 boards.
They all survived the 44-point explosion from Glen Rice Jr. who had a chance to force overtime but missed his go-ahead three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Gin Kings controlled the intense first half which saw TNT getting frustrated with the officiating. Tensions spilled over as TNT coach Nash Racela and SMC executive Alfrancis Chua traded barbs while both teams were heading to the dugout.
Ginebra enjoyed a 60-49 cushion at the break but TNT came back with Jayson Castro wreaking havoc in the second half. “The Blur” attacked Ginebra’s defense and orchestrated plays for his teammates and himself as the Gin Kings simply had a hard time containing him.
His jumper early in the fourth quarter tied the score at 85-all. Since then, both teams engaged in a nip-and-tuck affair.
Brownlee however buried a booming triple to give Ginebra a 99-98 lead with 2:40 left. Thompson then followed it up with a putback to push the Gin Kings’ lead to three points.
Devance then gave Ginebra a 103-98 lead with 1:34 left–much to the dismay of KaTropa who felt that he pushed Troy Rosario to secure the offensive board.
Rice sank two free throws to pull TNT to within three. But Devance scored another huge basket to make it a 105-100 game with 33 seconds left.
Rice was then called for a technical for deliberately hanging onto the rim. After a missed dunk, he tried to grab an offensive rebound with his hand still in the basket.
Brownlee sank a technical free throw for a 106-100 Ginebra lead with 25 seconds left. Rice countered with a quick triple on the other end, and TNT was forced to send Thompson to the line.
But Thompson missed two free throws with seven seconds left, opening the door for TNT to set up a game-tying shot. Rice however failed to convert, allowing Ginebra to finally seal the win.
GINEBRA 106 – Devance 20, Slaughter 19, Thompson 17, Brownlee 17, Tenorio 16, Aguilar 8, Mercado 7, Ferrer 2.
TNT 103 – Rice Jr. 44, Castro 17, Semerad 10, Williams 10, Pogoy 7, Rosario 7, Golla 3, Reyes 3, Seigle 2, Nuyles 0, Tautuaa 0, Chua 0.
Quarters: 31-26, 60-49, 85-80, 106-103.