Ginebra advances to finals

Barangay Ginebra beats NLEX Road Warriors, 112-93

By Olmin Leyba

THERE was no slip-up this time and with Justin Brownlee doing Justin Brownlee things, defending champion Barangay Ginebra took its familiar spot in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup finals.

Two days after botching their sweep job in Game 3, the Gin Kings made sure they did it right and secured a finals-clinching 112-93 triumph over NLEX before a big Wednesday crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Mr. Brownlee erupted for 47 huge points, including 11 in their third-quarter breakaway, as the Gin Kings quickly bounced back from their 86-85 heartbreaker in the previous match to close out the series, 3-1.

Seeded sixth in the playoffs, the crowd darlings progressed to the championship round for the fourth time in the last five editions of the Governors Cup. They won the three prior finals stints, including the last one back in 2019, and will try to add another one in the coming series against either Meralco or Magnolia.

“Life is a lot easier when you have Justin Brownlee around,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone of his ever-reliable import, who complemented his production with 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks.

“What a phenomenal performance by Justin (Brownlee). You kinda see it coming when you see the intensity he had in practice, before the game and even at half time.”

Jeff Chan rifled in 20 spiked by five triples and played a key role in helping Ginebra get back after NLEX jumped to an early 12-3 margin while LA Tenorio, atoning for his endgame blunder last time, fired 14.

“I thought his (Mr. Chan’s) couple of treys at the beginning of the game when NLEX came out with so much fire and jumped ahead of us kinda settled the whole team down. I thought that was the key to the whole game,” said Mr. Cone.

It was quick redemption for Mr. Tenorio, whose turnover and mental lapse in the dying seconds hastened Ginebra’s fall last Sunday.

“He’s a vet and he knows as a leader he can’t dwell on that. He has to move forward and get his teammates to move forward. So I’m really proud of him today,” said Mr. Cone of the Ginebra skipper.

Cameron Clark finished with 34 and 12 for the Road Warriors, who will have to continue their quest for a breakthrough title next season.

With Mr. Clark active on offense early, NLEX created a 16-8 separation in the first four minutes of play as it put Ginebra on the backfoot.

But just as quickly, Ginebra countered with 10 unanswered points behind Messrs. Chan, Joe Devance, Tenorio and Brownlee to wrest a two-point spread and make it a tight battle.

Then with a Mr. Brownlee-led 31-21 salvo in the third, the Gin Kings ripped the game apart, 84-71, and didn’t look back.

The Scores:

Ginebra 112 – Brownlee 47, Chan 20, Tenorio 14, Pinto 12, Standhardinger 10, Thompson 4, Tolentino 3, Devance 2, R. Aguilar 0

NLEX 93 – Clark 34, Trollano 15, Chua 10, Paniamogan 9, Alas 6, Rosales 5, Ighalo 5, Soyud 4, Semerad 3, Quinahan 2, Miranda 0

Quarterscores: 22-22, 53-50, 84-71, 112-93