BARANGAY Ginebra came out more aggressive, but had fend off a tough TNT Katropa stand late to escape with a 106-103 win in a PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal matchup marred by contentious calls and take a 2-1 lead in their series on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Joe Devance scored two crucial putbacks that gave the Gin Kings enough cushion, before heaving a sigh of relief after missing a wide-open layup later as they held on in a heated showdown that lived up to its billing before a sizeable crowd.
The Gin Kings survived another superb showing by Glen Rice Jr., who exploded for 44 points and just missed a potential overtime-sending three-pointer as time expired.
“That was a great game. Both teams played well and it just came down to the last shot,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “But the series is not yet over. It’s not a safe lead especially against TNT."
The Gin Kings can close out the best-of-five series with a win in Game Four on Sunday night also at the Big Dome.
After being a bit tentative in Game Two, the Gin Kings went more aggressive on Friday night and resulted in drawing more fouls, 35-24, to take a wide 43-14 lead in free throw attempts and conversions (30-12).
Still, the Texters managed to erase a 13-point deficit early in the third quarter and stayed within striking distance from thereon behind Rice, who fired 15 of his output in the payoff period, including two on a putback that gave them a taste of the lead at 98-6 with three minutes and 37 seconds left.
Justin Brownlee, however, retaliated with a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Gin Kings the lead for good with 2:41 left, before Scottie Thompson and Devance each scored on a putback to give them a two-possession 103-98 lead.
After rice scored two charities, Devance scored another followup to put the lead back to five, before Brownlee scored on a technical free throw after Rice was called for hanging on the rim.
Rice scored on a putback three-pointer to pull the Texters back to within three points, before Thompson missed two charities to keep TNT alive, before Rice missed on last-gasp trey at the buzzer.
Devance finished with a team-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting along with four boards, three assists, and two blocks, while Greg Slaughter added 19 points and six boards in 28 minutes off the bench.
Brownlee and Thompson wound up with 17 points apiece as both finished with double-doubles with the do-it-all import grabbing 13 boards and Thompson hauling down 12 rebounds.
Kevin Ferrer also made his return from a cheek injury and tried to frustrated Rice on the defensive end.
The result spoiled a near-triple-double by Jayson Castro, who tallied 17 points, nine boards, and nine assists in 40 minutes.
GINEBRA 106 – Devance 20, Slaughter 19, Thompson 17, Brownlee 17, Tenorio 16, Aguilar 8, Mercado 7, Ferrer 2
TNT 103 – Rice Jr. 44, Castro 17, Semerad 10, Williams 10, Pogoy 7, Rosario 7, Golla 3, Reyes 3, Seigle 2, Nuyles 0, Tautuaa 0, Chua 0
Quarterscores: 31-26, 60-49, 85-80, 106-103