BARANGAY Ginebra reasserted its mastery of Meralco, rolling to an 83-72 victory in their PBA Philippine Cup road game at the University of San Agustin gym in Iloilo on Saturday night.
The Gin Kings erased an early double-digit deficit as they leaned on a late surge to get back on the winning track after their rematch of the Governors’ Cup Finals where Ginebra ended an eight-year title drought.
Joe Devance showed the way with 19 points and six boards, while Japeth Aguilar put on the finishing touches with five straight points that gave the Gin Kings a 79-65 lead in the last two minutes as they moved back to .500 with an even 4-4 win-loss record.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Baser Amer hardly mattered as the Bolts suffered a sixth straight loss and seventh overall against two wins to get stuck at the bottom of the standings.
"We're still trying to climb our way back to contention,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said. “The thing I liked about today is our team really battled and battled, and we have our bad moments and we kept battling through it, keeping our heads up keep pushing.”
Aguilar finished with 17 points and 12 boards, while LA Tenorio chipped in 18 points, including a trey at the buzzer for quotient purposes, along with five rebounds, and four assists.
Scottie Thompson sustained his fascinating rebounding run, hauling down 16 boards – one shy of his career high he snared on Christmas Day – on top of seven points and seven boards in 29 minutes off the bench.
Reynel Hugnatan went cold after a string of sizzling showings for the Bolts, missing 11 of his 14 shots as he did most of his damage from the foul line to still lead his team with 18 points.
It was a tale of two halves as the Bolts erected a lead as many as 10 points early on before the Gin Kings pulled to within one at the half.
Ginebra finally turned the game around in the third quarter, where the outscored the Bolts, 17-10, before pulling away in the payoff period to emerge victorious in the low-scoring affair.
With his game-high output, Devance became part of the 5,000 points club, the 78th local and 18th among active players to do so, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
GINEBRA 83 – Devance 19, Tenorio 18, Aguilar 17, Mercado 9, Thompson 7, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 4, Ellis 3, Marcelo 2, Cruz 0, Mariano 0, Taha 0
MERALCO 72 – Hugnatan 18, Newsome 14, Amer 11, Caram 6, Yeo 6, Bono 5, Hodge 5, Faundo 4, Daquioag 3, Grey 0, Nabong 0
Quaterscores: 14-23, 39-40, 56-50, 83-72