BARANGAY Ginebra pounced on crucial lapses by Barako Bull as well as the disqualification on fouls of import Joshua Dollard to pull off a 108-104 win in overtime in the two teams' debuts in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings made a hard slog of the match and struggled to put away a Barako Bull side that played rookies Jeric Fortuna and Carlo Lastimosa for much of the final stretch, needing a clutch three-pointer from sophomore Chris Ellis to send the game to overtime.
Not until Dollard picked up his sixth and final foul off Japeth Aguilar entering the final minute of extra time did Ginebra finally take control of a match that, curiously, had assistant coach Juno Sauler - and not Ato Agustin - mapping out the plays on the Kings bench.
“Iyung breaks went to our side, especially yung crucial part ng game. Of course, yung adjustment namin sa new system, eh kasi, nag-iba yung plays namin,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin.
Dollard led all scorers with 45 points but could only watch from the bench when Leon Rodgers made two free throws and LA Tenorio another charity to put the game away for Ginebra, 108-104.
In between, Fortuna, the former starting guard of University of Santo Tomas in the college leagues, missed on a three-pointer that could have tied the score for Barako Bull.
Still, Ginebra needed all the breaks it could get to pull off the victory. They got one in overtime when Denok Miranda called a timeout which Barako didn't have, leading to a Rodgers free throw.
Barako Bull, which led by five points late in regulation, also failed to control the rebound after two misses from beyond the three-point arc by Japeth Aguilar and Mark Caguioa, setting the stage for Ellis' trey that sent the game into overtime.
Agustin said for the early part of the import-spiced conference, he will allow Sauler to map out the plays during timeouts, though he reiterated that he’s simply reinforcing whatever they have talked about during the conference break.
“Lahat naman eh, collectively, nagtutulong-tulong ang mga coaches. Lahat ng mga ideas, we’re trying to change some of the plays kasi from last conference,” he added.
The Ginebra coach added that fans could expect Sauler to simply implement whatever game plan they have prepared in future games.
“Yes sa kanya (Sauler) na (game board). Pero iyung preparation naman ng game plan, one page dapat kasi dun pa lang sa preparation. Ganun na talaga yung mangyayari for the future games,” he said.
Rodgers, who earned a reputation as a solid scorer in the Chinese Basketball Association, led the Gin Kings with 31 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Chris Ellis added 17, including two huge three-point shots late in the game.
Ginebra 108 - Rodgers 31, Ellis 17, Aguilar 14, Slaughter 12, Caguioa 12, Tenorio 9, Reyes 8, Mamaril 3, Urbiztondo 2, Baracael 0, Monfort 0.
Barako Bull 104 - Dollard 45, Pennisi 12, Lastimosa 10, Intal 7, Miranda 7, Wilson 6, Buenafe 6, Jensen 5, Fortuna 5, Pena 1, Deutchman 0, Isip 0, Miller 0, Marcelo 0.
Quarterscores: 22-23, 51-52, 73-70, 93-93, 108-104