‘Never Say Die’ Ginebra defeats Rain or Shine, forces do-or-die match

PBA/Nuki Sabio

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel were comeback kings once more, turning a halftime deficit into a thrilling 79-77 victory over Rain or Shine Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

With the win, the Gin Kings forced a do-or-die Game Three in their quarterfinals series Sunday also at the Big Dome.

Ginebra was trailing, 41-33, after the first two periods and the game looked like it would be a reprise of the series’ opening match, which turned into a rout for Rain or Shine.

Instead, Ginebra outscored Rain or Shine, 24-14, in the third quarter, and held steady in the endgame to tie the series.

“I wanna thank God for this victory,” Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen. “This really is a blessing.”

Ginebra was still leading, 79-72, with just two minutes left, before Rain or Shine rattled off five quick points courtesy of Jervy Cruz and Paul Lee.

The Elasto Painters forced a stop in Ginebra’s final possession, but a three-point attempt by Jeff Chan that could have given Rain or Shine the lead rattled in and out of the rim.

Gabe Norwood recovered the possession for the Elasto Painters, but Mark Caguioa shackled Lee in the ensuing play to force the ball out, before Rudy Hatfield stole Norwood’s final inbound pass to preserve the victory for the Gin Kings.

Chris Ellis led Ginebra with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio added 17 and 16, respectively, for the Gin Kings. Rudy Hatfield also played well for Ginebra chipping in 10 points and nine rebounds.

Lee led Rain or Shine with 19 points, while Chan added 12.

The winner of the do-or-die match will face San Mig Coffee, which earlier defeated Petron to book a semifinals seat.

The scores:

GINEBRA 79 – Ellis 18, Caguioa 17, Tenorio 16, Hatfield 10, Mamaril 9, Maierhofer 4, Helterbrand 3, Taha 2, Jensen 0, Espiritu 0, Wilson 0, Raymundo 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 77 – Lee 19, Chan 12, Arana 9, Cruz 8, Norwood 8, Tiu 7, Quinahan 5, Belga 3, Matias 2, Tang 2, Rodriguez 2.

Quarters: 22-20, 33-41, 57-55, 79-77

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