ADVERSITY again brought the best out of Barangay Ginebra as it walloped Star, 91-67, on Sunday night to force sudden death in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.
Pushed to the brink of elimination after suffering an 89-80 loss in Game Five last Friday, the Gin Kings responded to the challenge with their A-Game, turning the game around in the third quarter before sustaining the surge in the fourth period to coast to the win in Game Six before a crowd of over 18,000 people at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Joe Devance, playing with one good foot, sparked the run in the third, before Jervy Cruz and Sol Mercado took over the payoff period to derail the Hotshots’ finals bid.
The sister squads engage each other in an all-out war in Game Seven on Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“What would a Clasico series be without a Game Seven?” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said after the game. “I guess it’s the way it was meant to be.”
Deviance fired all his 14 points in the third quarter where the Gin Kings outscored the Hotshots, 24-15, to turn a one-point halftime deficit into an eight-point lead heading into the final frame.
From there, Mercado stood tallest, scattering 12 of his team-high 21 points, while Cruz added seven of his 11 markers as the Gin Kings outscored the Hotshots, 29-13 to build a lead that ballooned to 25 points in the waning seconds.
LA Tenorio finally delivered a solid offensive game in the series as he finished with 19 points on top of six boards, five assists, and two steals in 40 minutes, while Japeth Aguilar added 11 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal in 34 minutes.
“It’s like we’re ping-ponging our energy levels,” Cone said. “They started the series with great energy. We were able to pick it up in the next couple of games. Game Five was a disaster for us, we had nothing.”
“But tonight they looked a step slow,” he added. “This is a tough grind, playing every other day, but we seemed to have the energy today.”
Marc Pingris led the Hotshots with 14 points, 10 boards, and three blocks, but was scoreless in the final frame, while Mark Barroca was his only other teammate who scored in twin digits.
GINEBRA 91 – Mercado 21, Tenorio 19, Devance 14, Aguilar 11, Cruz 11, Ferrer 6, Taha 3, Jamito 2, Thompson 2, Helterbrand 1, Ellis 1, Caguioa 0, Mariano 0, Marcelo 0
STAR 67 – Pingris 14, Barroca 13, Maliksi 9, Lee 8, Ramos 6, Melton 4, Jalalon 4, Reavis 4, Sangalang 3, Brondial 2, Abundo 0, Dela Rosa 0, Simon 0
Quarterscores: 25-22, 38-39, 62-54, 91-67