LUCENA – Barangay Ginebra had to do it the hard way again, accomplishing in overtime what it failed to do in regulation as it outlasted San Miguel Beer, 124-118, in a Game Two classic on Sunday night to tie the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at one game apiece.
Heroes were aplenty for the Gin Kings who squandered a 26-point lead in regulation, before regaining their bearings in the extra session to deny the Beermen of pulling off the greatest comeback in a finals game before a sellout crowd at the Quezon Convention Center.
Scottie Thompson delivered a virtuoso performance with a near-triple-double of 18 points, a new career-high 18 boards, and eight assists, on top of three steals, while Joe Devance scored the putback that forced overtime before delivering on the defensive end in overtime to lead the Gin Kings in surviving the Beermen.
“It just goes to show how good San Miguel Beer is in coming back,” a relieved Ginebra coach Tim Coen said after the game. “The only thing we did good was we were resilient. We fought through the ups and down and continued to battle.”
Both teams seek a 2-1 lead with a win in Game Three on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Japeth Aguilar paced the Gin Kings with a game-high-tying 23 points and 12 boards in 41 minutes, while Kevin Ferrer caught fire early, firing all but three of his 21 points in the second quarter where the Gin Kings established their biggest lead at 65-39, before capping his play with a block on Arwind Santos in the extra session.
LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado also finished in double-figure scoring for the Gin Kings, who still found the Beermen a tough nut to crack despite seeing Marcio Lassiter get ejected late in the third quarter after picking up a second technical foul for taunting, and June Mar Fajardo foul out with over two minutes left in the fourth period.
Ronald Tubid rose to the occasion, sparking the SMB comeback by scoring all his 16 points in the fourth and overtime periods, burying four timely treys, the last with one minute and 40 seconds left in the extra session that knotted the count one last time at 118.
But the Beermen retaliated with six unanswered points to finish the game – two Aguilar free throws, a Thompson layup after a possession where he grabbed the defensive board that reset his career high, then a Mercado jumper that proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
Gabby Espinas also would’ve emerged an unlikely hero after knocking down a rare triple that put the Beermen ahead, 109-108, in regulation before Tubid split his free throws in SMB’s next offensive possession, but that set the stage for Devance’s heroics, putting back his own miss at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Thompson stood tallest as the sophomore sensation set the tone for all-around showing by tallying already eight points, seven boards, one assist after first period where he dished out on assist – a drop pass to Dave Marcelo for a stunning one-handed slam.
Santos led the Beermen with 23 points, 15 boards, three steals, and two blocks, while Lassiter added 21 markers, behind five triples, the last that prompted him to taunt Mercado with a minute left in the third.
Chris Ross also fouled out in overtime after finishing with 16 points, 11 assists, and five boards.
Fajardo, hobbled by foul trouble, was held to just 10 points on five attempts along with seven boards, four blocks, and three assists that went for naught.
GINEBRA 124 – Aguilar 23, Ferrer 21, Thompson 18, Devance 16, Tenorio 15, Mercado 11, Ellis 8, Marcelo 6, Cruz 4, Taha 2
SMB 118 – Santos 23, Lassiter 21, Ross 16, Tubid 16, Cabagnot 13, Espinas 13, Fajardo 10, Heruela 4, De Ocampo 2, Agovida 0, Reyes 0
Quarterscores: 28-20, 67-43, 85-82, 110-110, 124-118