BARANGAY Ginebra brought its B-game yet still finished A-okay as it repulsed Mahindra, 94-80, on Friday night to clinch the top seed heading into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
The Gin Kings put up a good start, but had to weather multiple comeback attempts by an eliminated Floodbuster side that had nothing to lose, before pulling off their fourth straight victory to end the eliminations with a 9-2 win-loss record.
Justin Brownlee showed the way with 22 points, 10 boards, and five assists for the Gin Kings, who did enough to snap the Floodbuster’s two-game win streak as their victims wound up with just three wins overall in 11 games.
“We didn’t have the flow that we wanted offensively,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone insisted. “Even though we were up by 14, we didn’t feel like we were playing at a high level.”
“But the bottomline was we got the win, we’re moving on, and we secured the number one seed,” the champion coach added.
It was the first time in two decades ago the Gin Kings are entering the playoffs as the top seeds or since 1997 Commissioner’s Cup, a conference they emerged as champions after being bannered by import Chris King.
The Gin Kings, behind Brownlee, now face the survivor of the playoff between Alaska and GlobalPort on Sunday night.
The result also gifted idle Phoenix an outright playoff berth as the seventh seed, although in an unenviable matchup against twice-to-beat San Miguel Beer.
After establishing a 17-point lead early in the third quarter, the Gin Kings took the foot off the gas pedal as no local breached the 30-minute barrier, with Japeth Aguilar seeing the most action at 29 minutes, enough time to register 14 points, nine boards, and two assists.
The subs thus saw extended playing time as Mark Caguioa led the bench mob with 13 points in 19 minutes.
Keith Wright tallied 21 points and 22 boards that went for naught for the Floodbuster in the presence of listed coach Manny Pacquiao.
GINEBRA 94 – Brownlee 22, Aguilar 14, Cagiuoa 13, Mercado 9, Tenorio 8, Thompson 8, Devance 5, Ellis 4, Taha 2, Marcelo 2, Jamito 2, Cruz 2, Mariano 2, Ferrer 1
MAHINDRA 80 – Wright 21, Khobuntin 16, Deutchman 13, Revilla 6, Pacquiao 6, Teng 5, Caperal 3, Camson 3, Celda 3, Yee 2, Salva 2, Ballesteros 0, Corpuz 0, Nimes 0, Paniamogan 0
Quarterscores: 26-16, 47-33, 68-59, 94-80