THE pro-Ginebra side of the almost 12,000 people, including the great Sonny Jaworski, who trooped the Smart-Araneta Coliseum either stood up or raised their hands for a human wave that went on for a minute late in the third quarter.
Then it was their team that went on a wave of attacks in the payoff period to complete a huge comeback they are capable of and drown their opponents.
Barangay Ginebra matched the all-Filipino TNT KaTropa’s intensity in the second half as the Gin Kings dispatched the Texters, 115-105, on Sunday night to set up a PBA Governors’ Cup Finals rematch against Meralco.
The Gin Kings saw a gallant stand by a Texters side that was forced to play all-Filipino most of the game after import Glen Rice Jr. was ejected late in the first quarter, but finally pounced on the TNT import’s absence down the stretch to close their semifinal series out in four games.
Justin Brownlee typified the Gin Kings’ spirited second half, putting on a virtuoso performance with 46 points, 10 boards, and five assists as he conspired with LA Tenorio in finishing off the Texters.
“We were just fortunate that Glen Rice went out…but it was still a great game; they were making shots. It was quite a frustrating first half,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “But our guys came collected in the second half and started playing like we do.”
With their backs against the wall, the Texters displayed the sense of urgency even after Rice went out late in the opening canto throwing the ball at Kevin Ferrer, managing to maintain a double-digit that went as many as 72-54 early in the third quarter behind Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario.
But the Gin Kings showed the never-say-die attitude they are known for, mounting on a telling 19-4 run that turned an 85-90 deficit early in the fourth quarter to a 104-94 lead with a little over four minutes left.
LA Tenorio capped that huge comeback with a left-wing triple off a feed from Brownlee, highlighting his all-around showing of 25 points, seven assists, four boards, and one steal that negated his six turnovers in 39 minutes.
Greg Slaughter added 21 points and missed a double-double by just a rebound, scoring on a short stab that gave the Gin Kings their biggest lead at 108-96 and completed a 30-point turnaround – the biggest comeback win in PBA playoff history in seven years since Ginebra came back from 20 points down versus Alaska in the 2011 Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
The result spoiled an impressive showing by Rosario, who finished with a team-high 28 points on top of 10 boards, and one steal, while Castro added 26 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.
Ginebra 115 – Brownlee 46, Tenorio 25, Slaughter 21, Mercado 11, Aguilar 6, Ferrer 4, Caguioa 2, Thompson 0, Devance 0
TNT 105 – Rosario 28, Castro 26, Pogoy 14, Semerad 12, Williams 10, Tautuaa 9, Reyes 4, Rice Jr. 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Nuyles 0, Hernandez 0, Seigle 0
Quarterscores: 32-41; 52-66; 80-86; 115-105