BARANGAY Ginebra turned it up a notch when it mattered most as it frustrated Blackwater, 98-81, to sustain its momentum in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Gin Kings saw the Elite threaten to pull off an upset before breaking loose from a tight game halfway through the payoff period on the way to seventh straight win after starting their title defense with a loss.
Greg Slaughter led the balanced attack with 22 points and eight boards off the bench for the Gin Kings, while Japeth Aguilar blocked a Bill Walker layup attempt with a little less than seven minutes left in the game that Cone felt spelled the biggest difference.
As a result, the Elite, who lost an early seven-point lead, fell below .500 after suffering a fifth loss in nine games.
“The score doesn’t give justice to the difficulty of the game,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone insisted. “The game could’ve gone either way, until that Japeth block on Walker. I thought that changed the game.”
The Elite were still ahead, 73-69, after Roi Sumang scored the first two points of the fourth quarter from the charity stripe, when the Gin Kings shifted to higher gear and outscored them from thereon, 29-8, to pull away.
Justin Brownlee stuffed the stats sheet again with 17 points, 13 boards, six assists, four blocks, and one steal in almost 40 minutes, while LA Tenorio added 16 points, five assists, three boards, two steals, and one block.
Devance chipped in 15 points and missed a double-double by just two rebounds, completing an all-around play with four assists in 36 minutes, while Aguilar finished with 10 points, six boards, two assists, and two blocks.
Walker paced the Elite with 26 points, highlighted by six three-pointers, on top of 17 boards, four assists, three steals, and one block that went for naught as the prolific import failed to get ample support outside Mike DiGregorio and Roi Sumang.
Poy Erram contributed just six points, three boards, and three blocks as he fouled out halfway through the fourth quarter after less than 23 minutes of play.
GINEBRA 98 – Slaughter 22, Brownlee 17, Tenorio 16, Devance 15, Aguilar 10, Ferrer 7, Caguioa 6, Thompson 4, Mercado 1
BLACKWATER 81 – Walker 26, Digregorio 12, Sumang 12, Pinto 8, Erram 6, Canaleta 6, Gamalinda 5, Marcelo 4, Sena 2, Belo 0
Quarterscores: 23-24, 45-48, 69-71, 98-81