JUSTIN Brownlee had 44 points, and Barangay Ginebra overcame a huge fightback by Rain or Shine to claim Game Three, 75-72, on Saturday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Gin Kings led by as many as 25 points but were only trailing by three in the final seconds. James Yap missed two long triples in the final possession of Game Three and Ginebra escaped with the victory.
Ginebra can seal a spot in the finals with a Game Four victory on Monday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra, whose eight-game winning streak was snapped in Game Two, went on a 9-0 start with Brownlee scoring a three-point play, and LA Tenorio hitting back-to-back threes, and the Kings surged to a 43-18 lead.
Rain or Shine, however, slowly chipped away Ginebra's lead, which was down to single digits in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the contest.
Beau Belga hit a triple with 31 seconds left, and Reggie Johnson scored a short stab with nine seconds to play and the Elasto Painters sliced the gap to only two, 74-72.
Tenorio failed to put the game away after making only a free throw with 6.8 seconds left, but Ginebra heaved a sigh of relief with Yap’s misses from the outside.
“What a brilliant comeback by Rain or Shine,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “Coach Caloy got them ready. We played a pretty half. It was a pretty game in the first half. They weren’t making shots but we were.”
“We just made a whole bunch of mental mistakes and just held on by our fingernails,” Cone said.
It was Brownlee’s second-best point-output following his 46-point effort in last year’s semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Tenorio had 13 points, the only other Ginebra player who scored in double figures in Game Three.
Johnson had 13 points and 22 rebounds, while Raymund Almazan tallied 12 points and nine boards for the Elastopainters in a gallant effort. Ed Daquioag added 11 points.
GINEBRA 75 – Brownlee 44, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Ferrer 3, Chan 3, J. Aguilar 2, Devance 2, Mercado 0, Thompson 0, Caguioa 0.
ROS 72 – Johnson 13, Almazan 12, Daquioag 11, Yap 9, Tiu 6, Nambatac 6, Belga 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 2, Washington 2, Ponferada 0, Borboran 0, Torres 0.
Quarters: 24-10; 45-23; 61-41; 75-72.