BARANGAY Ginebra continued to flourish despite a depleted roster, eking out a 101-99 win over Phoenix to claim the solo lead in the PBA Governors Cup in Cagayan de Oro City.
The Kings leaned on a big third quarter run to take control of the Petron Saturday Special game at the Xavier University gym, before surviving a huge endgame fightback by the Fuel Masters to topple their victims on top of the standings.
The two-time reigning champions improved to 5-1 overall and won for the second straight game even without key players Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and Sol Mercado.
Import Justin Brownlee led the Kings with 34 points, including a split from the foul line in the final 10 seconds that clinched the win for the team. He also had 15 rebounds and six assists.
Phoenix suffered its second loss for a 5-2 mark despite getting 27 points from hotshot Matthew Wright, including a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from three-point range.
The last of those Wright triples put the Fuel Mastets within 100-99 with 15 seconds left.
Phoenix still had one last gasp of turning the game around, but Wright turned the ball over just before the final buzzer.
Joe Devance led all Ginebra locals with 15 points and hit a corner three inside the final minute that made it a four-point game for the Kings.
Scottie Thompson had another all-around effort for the defending champions with 12 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists, while LA Tenorio was the other Ginebra player in double figures with 10.
Import Eugene Phelps finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Calvin Abueva had 17 and nine rebounds before going down with cramps in the final 2:19 and the Fuel Masters very much in the game, 94-95.
Phoenix saw its three-game winning run snapped despite shooting 10-of-22 from three-point land (45 percent).
GINEBRA (101) – Brownlee 34, Devance 15, Thompson 12, Tenorio 10, Caperal 8, Ferrer 8, Mariano 6, Caguioa 4, Chan 4.
PHOENIX (99) – Wright 27, Phelps 23, Abueva 17, Perkins 13, Jazul 6, Chua 5, Intal 4, Wilson 2, Alolino 2, Revilla 0.
Quarterscores: 19-22; 52-49; 78-72; 101-99.