ORLANDO Johnson was super as usual, scoring a game-high 47 points as Barangay Ginebra pulled off a thrilling 105-98 win over KIA on Wednesday night to spoil Manny Pacquiao's return to the PBA.
Johnson, easily the most impressive import in the PBA Governors Cup, kept Ginebra from falling apart in the face of a tough stand by a KIA side inspired by the arrival of its injured playing coach to chants of 'Manny, Manny' by the crowd at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
But those cheers were soon drowned by classic chants of 'Ginebra, Ginebra' when the Kings made the decisive run in the endgame, beginning with a layup by Josh Urbiztondo that broke the game's last deadlock at 97-all.
"We're just finding ways to win," said Ginebra coach Frankie Lim after chalking up his first win at the helm of an injury-hit Ginebra team that played its third straight game without 'Twin Towers' Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar as well as wingman Chris Ellis.
"Makikita mo naman effort ng players namin, di mo matawaran," added Lim.
Pacquiao, who arrived from the US on Wednesday morning, more than a week after his loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., capped a hectic day by joining KIA on the bench midway through the second quarter.
The Carnival responded by battling back from a 10-point behind the exploits of Senegalese import Hamady N’Diyae, along with guards LA Revilla and Karl Dehesa.
“I’m just happy to have our first win. Mahirap kapag wala kang malaki. We’re struggling inside when we're playing teams with very tall imports,” Lim said.
“But regardless na sino kalaban namin dun, I think it’s just the feeling of making ourselves feel good because these guys have been working so hard in practices.”
Mark Caguioa had his best scoring output this conference, backing up Johnson by finishing with 16 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Mongolian import Sanchir Tungalag started for Ginebra after his benching in the team's previous game, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and one block. Urbiztondo added 11 off the bench, while LA Tenorio chipped in 10.
"Sanchir, I want to make things clear with him, I want him to play defense for us," Lim said when asked about his decison bot to use the Mongolian in the loss to Talk 'N Text.
Revilla led the Carnival (1-1) with 20 points, six assists and five rebounds while N’Diyae added 19 markers, 25 rebounds and five blocks.
Dehesa also scored 19 for KIA, while Taiwanese import Jet Chang had 10.
Ginebra 105 - Johnson 47, Caguioa 16, Urbiztondo 11, Tenorio 10, Mercado 8, Tungalag 8, Brondial 3, Marcelo 2, Pena 0, Monfort 0, Helterbrand 0, Baracael 0.
KIA 98 - Revilla 20, N'Diaye 19, Dehesa 19, Chang 10, Bagatsing 10, Nuyles 5, Ighalo 4, Alvarez 4, Thiele 3, Deutchman 2, Yee 2, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 23-27, 49-42, 73-65, 105-98