BARANGAY Ginebra needed to go through the hard way, outlasting Rain or Shine, 100-92, in triple overtime on Friday night to clinch a playoff berth in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings gave up a double-digit lead in regulation and heaved a sigh of relief after a handful of point-blank misses by the Elasto Painters to emerge victorious in the first triple-overtime game of the season and just the 12th in the history of the league.
Sol Mercado scored the go-ahead layup, Jervy Cruz buried the dagger jumper as they came through after Japeth Aguilar carried the load most of the way in a grueling battle that took almost three hours to finish.
Instead of going through a playoff for the last spot, the Gin Kings ended as the fourth seed at the end of the eliminations arranged a best-of-three series with the fifth-ranked E-Painters.
“It was a game of attrition,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said. “I don’t know how many triple-overtime games I could last anymore. But whatever it takes.”
The result eliminated idle Blackwater from contention, nearly completing the playoff cast with third seed Alaska facing NLEX in the other best-of-three pairing and twice-to-beat Magnolia facing GlobalPort.
TNT and Phoenix will still still face off in a playoff for the last seed and the right to challenge top seed and defending champion San Miguel Beer in the next round.
Aguilar played through a bad back as he registered 30 points, 17 boards, five assists, and one block. He carried his team on his shoulders in only the 12th triple-overtime game in the 43-year history of the league.
LA Tenorio added 20 points, six boards, two steals, and one assist, against eight turnovers, showing why he’s the league’s 'Ironman' after playing 56 minutes and 52 seconds – the fourth most all-time among locals after Kerby Raymundo (61 minutes), Jun Limpot (60), and Sonny Jaworski (58).
But it was Mercado and Cruz who hit the biggest baskets down the stretch, with the former scoring on a drive that put the Gin Kings up for good at 94-92 with one minute and 42 seconds left, before dishing to Cruz for the mid-range jumper from the right corner that gave them a two-possession lead with 34 seconds left.
The E-Painters had a chance to win in the second extra session, but Raymond Almazan missed an alley-oop connection off an inbound pass from Gabe Norwood, while Maverick Ahanmisi also botched a putback attempt as the game dragged on to another overtime.
Beau Belga led the E-Painters with 17 points, six boards, five assists, and just one turnover in 44 minutes that went to waste.
GINEBRA 100 – J. Aguilar 30, Tenorio 20, Devance 15, Mercado 10, Thompson 10, Cruz 6, Mariano 3, Caguioa 3, Ferrer 3, R. Aguilar 0
ROS 92 – Belga 17, Norwood 13, Ahanmisi 11, Daquioag 11, Washington 9, Almazan 8, Trollano 8, Borboran 6, Ponferada 4,Nambatac 3, Maiquez 2,Matias 0
Quarterscores: 26-20, 46-34, 67-62, 80-80, 85-85 (OT1), 87-87 (OT2), 100-92 (OT3)