BARANGAY Ginebra sustained its momentum heading into the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup postseason as it held off Talk ‘N Text, 91-84, on Sunday night to arrange an enticing quarterfinal matchup against Star.
The Gin Kings maintained a sizeable cushion, but had to overcome a late uprising from the Tropang Texters to score their third straight victory that allowed them to finish the elimination round in fourth spot with a 7-4 win-loss record after starting the conference at 1-3.
Greg Slaughter showed the way with 27 points, 13 boards, and three blocks, while Japeth Aguilar chipped in 17 markers, seven rebounds, and three rejections to make up for two costly turnovers and a missed breakaway layup in the endgame that allowed the Texters to put up a scare.
“We worked all the way up here, but we still have a lot of basketball left,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said.
The twice-to-beat Gin Kings will face their sister team in the Hotshots in anticipated Christmas Day showdown.
The Texters dropped to sixth, but still have a win-once incentive in its quarterfinal matchup, also against a sister team in NLEX.
The result also slid idle GlobalPort to fifth to set up a meeting versus Barako Bull.
The Gin Kings looked poised for a runaway victory as they erected a 76-58 lead early in the fourth quarter, before the Texters fought back and came to within 85-81 after a Larry Fonacier three-pointer.
But a Slaughter stab, and two free throws each by LA Tenorio and Aguilar sealed the deal for the league’s most popular team, which drew energy from the Mall of Asia Arena crowd once again.
Troy Rosario continued to pick up the slack left by injured fellow big men Ranidel de Ocampo and Mo Tautuaa, tallying 22 points and 10 boards.
Tautuaa still played despite nursing back spasms, but mustered just four points and three boards against four turnovers in 14 minutes.
Ginebra 91 - Slaughter 27, Aguilar 17, Mercado 12, Devance 8, Ellis 8, Tenorio 6, Caguioa 5, Salva 4, Cruz 2, Thompson 2, Helterbrand 0, Marcelo 0.
Talk 'N Text 84 - Rosario 22, Fonacier 14, Castro 13, Carey 10, Williams 9, Reyes 6, Aban 4, Tautuaa 4, Miranda 2, Rosser 0, Seigle 0.
Quarterscores: 25-21, 45-40, 70-56, 91-84