BARANGAY Ginebra averted a late collapse, nearly losing a 17-point lead before overcoming TNT, 89-85, on Sunday to clinch a quarterfinal berth in the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings made key baskets as well as defensive stops in the end game to improve to 7-2 win-loss, surviving the comeback bid of a Tropang GIGA side that stood tough despite playing without import Cameron Oliver due to an injury.
To add to TNT’s woes, top guards Mikey Williams and Jayson Castro suffered injuries in the second half as the Tropang GIGA fell to 4-6 win-loss.
Justin Brownlee had 21 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists including key free throws down the stretch to seal the win against a TNT side that was left without an import after Oliver hyperextended his knee.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone recognized that they still needed to earn the win, their fifth straight, despite TNT playing shorthanded in the second half.
“You may be the winning coach but I felt like I was totally outcoached today,” said Cone, referring to his coaching match-up with TNT coach Chot Reyes.
“What an awesome job Talk ‘N Text did. What an awesome job coach Chot did, recovering from the great start we had and keeping their composure. They did an incredible job of spreading us out and picking us apart.”
Ginebra opened the game with a 29-12 lead, but TNT slowly chipped away at the gap to set the stage for a thrilling finish.
“We had to do everything that we could just to stay in the game and have a chance to win in the end after that blistering start,” said Cone.
Williams finished with 20 points but had to sit a couple of minutes in the fourth after suffering cramps. Castro, on the other hand, limped off in the second half after rolling his ankle in the third and never returned.
Christian Standhardinger broke an 81-81 deadlock with a jumper, and it became a battle from the free-throw line after that, with Scottie Thompson and Brownlee hitting their shots including two with 15.4 seconds left to give Ginebra an 87-83 advantage.
Stanley Pringle also had an excellent outing with 12 points while Thompson finished with 10 points, four rebounds, and six assists.
Barangay Ginebra 89 – Brownlee 21, Pringle 12, Thompson 10, J. Aguilar 9, Malonzo 8, Tenorio 8, Mariano 8, Standhardinger 8, Gray 5, Pinto 0.
TNT 85 – M. Williams 20, Pogoy 18, Erram 16, Khobuntin 10, Castro 7, Oftana 6, K. Williams 4, Tungcab 2, Heruela 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Soyud 0.
Quarters: 34-22; 53-45; 68-71; 89-85.