A RESOLUTE Barangay Ginebra side came out with the ferocity of a tiger and the marksmanship of a top gun in its most important game of the season, pulling off an emphatic 108-95 victory over Alaska Milk on Saturday to reach the semifinals of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup.
A 39-point first-quarter explosion by Ginebra set the tone for a knockout match that turned into a mismatch as soon as Ginebra burned the net with an array of three-point shots and drives - each one met by wild cheers from a boisterous crowd inside the Cuneta Astrodome.
They Said It!
“We were able to dictate the tempo." - Barangay Ginebra coach Ato Agustin
By dodging a bullet against the eighth-seeded Aces, the twice-to-beat Gin Kings atoned for a 97-104 loss in the first game of their quarterfinal playoff and reached the semifinals of an all-Filipino tournament for the first time in three seasons.
The top seeds now advance to a best-of-seven semifinal series against the winner of the Final Eight pairing between Talk 'N Text and San Mig, which will play a deciding Game Three on Sunday.
“I think yung intensity namin napakataas. The energy is there and of course, yung adjustment napakaganda,” said a beaming Ginebra coach Ato Agustin, who steered the team to an 11-3 win-loss record during the double-round elims en route to clinching the No. 1 seeding.
Japeth Aguilar was, fitting enough, named the Best Player of the Game after firing 29 points to go with 14 rebounds and five assists on his 27th birthday, but the high-leaping big man was not the only star on a night of celebration for the league's most popular team.
LA Tenorio, Chris Ellis, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Mac Baracael, Billy Mamaril, and Aguilar's frontline partner Greg Slaughter each had their moments in a game that saw the Kings never look back after opening a 31-10 lead seven minutes into the game.
The Gin Kings were not only extra sharp on this night, they were also lucky. Aguilar hit one wild shot after being bumped by JV Casio while an airborne Tenorio made another basket with his back to the goal and his feet almost on the ground. Both plays resulted in three-point plays.
Only a late run led by the equally ferocious Calvin Abueva made the final score look decently close in the end, but the predominantly pro-Ginebra crowd had one last chance to roar when 'The Beast' finally left the game on six fouls in the endgame.
The roar from the crowd grew even louder when Ginebra team manager Alfrancis Chua mimicked Abueva's 'nganga' gesture at the sidelines while the controversial Aces guard walked out of the floor.
Ginebra’s 69 points was the most points scored in a half by any team this season. Ginebra's lead reached a high of 31 points and the closest the weary Alaska side got was within 95-106 in the final minutes.
Ginebra clearly did its assignment on the defensive end, forcing Alaska to 18 turnovers which the Gin Kings translated to 24 points.
“Ang key dito, we were able to dictate the tempo, yun ang importante, sabi ko nga sanay ang Ginebra sa ganitong sitwasyon, mula pa nung naglalaro ako,” said Agustin, who is in only his second conference as
coach of the league’s crowd favorites.
“Of course, with the help of the fans, alam ko parang homecourt ng Ginebra ito (Astrodome).”
Ginebra 108 - Aguilar 29, Tenorio 22, Ellis 16, Baracael 12, Caguioa 12, Slaughter 11, Helterbrand 5, Mamaril 1, Reyes 0, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0, Faundo 0.
Alaska 95 - Casio 16, Espinas 16, Jazul 14, Abueva 13, Thoss 13, Baguio 13, Hontiveros 6, Avenido 4, Dela Cruz 0, Eman 0.
Quarterscores: 39-21, 69-43, 86-62, 108-95