ALMOST everybody's attention was on new Ginebra import Josh Powell - that is, until Chris Ellis stole the show in the end.
The high-flying sophomore put on a show while a winded Powell dragged his feet in the endgame, putting together a blazing scoring run that carried Ginebra past Meralco, 88-78, on Wednesday night in their PBA Commissioner's Cup clash at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ellis was all over the floor in the endgame of a match that was supposed to be a showcase for Powell, the two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers who raised hopes for a Ginebra resurgence when he came in for a misfiring Leon Rodgers.
However, Powell, who arrived on Tuesday morning, looked in no shape to carry the fight for the Gin Kings, who instead turned to Ellis and Greg Slaughter to end a two-game skid and raise their record to 3-4 (win-loss).
The game was still very much in the balance when Ellis finished off a fastbreak, hit two free throws, then made back-to-back three-pointers from both sides of the court to hand Ginebra an 86-73 lead with 46 seconds to go.
Slaughter, on the other hand, held his own against debuting Meralco import Darnell Jackson inside the paint, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the second half to go along with seven rebounds in what his best performance for the conference thus far.
Powell shook off jet lag to finish with 16 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in his PBA debut.
“We did a good job especially on defense. We were able to stop their second chance points and fastbreak. Saka target namin was to limit them to 78 points, maganda talaga defense namin,” said a beaming Ginebra coach Ato Agustin after the game.
Prior to this game, Ginebra was giving up an average of 100.6 points against opponents. But with Slaughter and Powell patrolling the shaded lane, the Kings held the Bolts to 22 points less that total.
Jackson, a former NBA veteran, debuted with 25 points and 18 rebounds, but the 28-year-old former Kansas standout eventually tired out in the end.
Ellis added 16 for the Gin KIngs, while Mark Caguioa had 13. LA Tenorio and Josh Urbiztondo chipped in 10 points apiece in a balanced scoring attack for the Gin KIngs.
Ginebra’s win also booted GlobalPort (0-7) from the playoff picture.
Ginebra 88 - Powell 16, Ellis 16, Slaughter 15, Caguioa 13, Urbiztondo 10, Tenorio 10, Aguilar 3, Helterbrand 3, Baracael 2, Mamaril 0.
Meralco 78 - Jackson 25, David 18, Dillinger 11, Hugnatan 9, Hodge 9, Caram 3, Al-Hussaini 2, Artadi 1, Ildefonso 0, Sena 0, Guevarra 0, Wilson 0, Mandani 0.
Quarterscores: 27-21; 44-40; 63-60; 88-78