ANTIPOLO CITY - Barangay Ginebra brought out its A-game for the start of the playoffs, outhustling and outgunning a stunned GlobalPort side, 95-78 to march to the second knockout phase of the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Ynares Center.
Surprised by the strong start of Terrence Romeo that saw the GlobalPort sophomore guard scored 12 points in the first quarter alone, Ginebra responded by unleashing a crippling 16-0 bomb late in the second period to grab the lead for good, 49-35, at the half.
Ginebra increased its defensive intensity in the second half with LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar leading the way in extending the Gin Kings' lead to as much as 23 points, 69-46, before coasting to the rousing victory.
Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso said there’s no doubt the recent trade that saw GlobalPort send Alex Cabagnot back to San Miguel Beer in exchange for Solomon Mercado had a significant effect on the Batang Pier’s game.
“I think so (effect of Cabagnot’s trade to San Miguel). I’m really big on chemistry. And kahit paano, one day to prepare with a new guy, or to lose a main guy like Alex is difficult because he sets up the offense for GlobalPort,” said Cariaso.
Without Cabagnot's averages of 15 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists, the Batang Pier appeared like lost kids against the Gin Kings’ unforgiving defense and fierce offense.
Mercado scored nine points and had four rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in his first game back for GlobalPort.
Ginebra, which drew 19 points, seven rebounds and six shotblocks from Japeth Aguilar, faces Talk ‘N Text next Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a knockout quarterfinal duel.
The winner of the Ginebra-Talk ‘N Text match earns the right to face top seed San Miguel Beer in a best-of-seven semifinal series.
Incidentally, all four twice-to-beat teams needed only one game to get past the first round of the playoffs.
In the other side of the bracket, Meralco takes on Alaska in another do-or-die game, with the winner moving on to a separate series against second seed Rain or Shine.
Rookie Stanley Pringle fought valiantly for the Batang Pier with 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Romeo added 21.
Ginebra 95 - Aguilar 19, Caguioa 15, Baracael 12, Slaughter 11, Mamaril 9, Tenorio 9, Yeo 9, Reyes 6, Monfort 3, Ellis 2, Forrester 0, Helterbrand 0, Brondial 0.
GlobalPort 78 - Pringle 26, Romeo 21, Mercado 9, Buenafe 8, Isip 6, Nabong 5, Baclao 3, Semerad 0, Caperal 0, Taha 0, Jensen 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 15-23, 49-35, 74-58, 95-78