MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra showed its teeth on defense in the most crucial of times, scraping past a plucky NLEX, 95-86, on Wednesday night to secure a crucial headstart in their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Gin Kings kept the Road Warriors scoreless starting at the 6:50 mark of the payoff period with Scottie Thomspon, LA Tenorio, and Justin Brownlee taking turns at scoring.
NLEX was eventually able to respond behind skipper Kevin Alas, but the lead—and at that point the clock—were already in favor of the defending champions who managed without its high-leaping forward Japeth Aguilar who left the game in the third period due to a suspected calf injury.
Import Justin Brownlee finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while LA Tenorio chipped in 19 more in the scoring effort. Scottie Thomspon delivered a double-double of 15 and 11, while Christian Standhardinger 10 and 12.
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“I’m glad we certainly finished it strong because we really needed the game, we needed the win because we don’t know exactly where Japeth is gonna be,” said coach Tim Cone.
“(Japeth) went out with a calf injury that he suffered actually originally in our game against Talk ‘N Text. We don’t know how long or whether or not he’s gonna be back in the series or what at this point.”
While Cone was relieved that his charges’ end-game poise was in full display during the contest, the seasoned mentor also knows that such relief will be short-lived.
“That run down the stretch that we’re able to do without Japeth was crucial. We stepped up defensively and we hit some shots, guys made some nice plays offensively. And that’s what it’s gonna take to beat a Yeng Guiao team: You have to be able to grind out the game,” he said.
“He’s gonna make you grind it, and we were able to do it today. We’ll see if we can do it again on Friday. Alaska basically did the same thing in Game 1 of their series and then got beat up in the second game. So we gotta make sure we don’t get beat up in the second game, which is the way that Yeng Guiao games do come out,” he added.
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