BARANGAY Ginebra pounced on a TNT KaTropa side that played all-Filipino in the second half, cruising to a 125-101 victory to stay alive in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal playoff.
The Gin Kings banked on a strong start then benefited from the absence of TNT import Joshua Smith, who went out halfway through the second quarter due to a hurting foot, according to assistant team manager Magnum Membrere.
Justin Brownlee showed the way for the Gin Kings, who pulled a game back after losing the first two games of the best-of-five series in the presence of Ginebra legend Sonny Jaworski at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“It helps a lot when you make shots,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said as his team drained 47 of their 87 shots for a blistering 54-percent shooting. “When we can make shots, our offense is kinda different and it spills over our defense.”
“(And) their import didn’t get many minutes, but the bottom line is, we haven’t done anything,” he added.
The Gin Kings can tie the series at two games and drag in to a deciding game with a win in Game Four on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Brownlee registered 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting, 11 boards, four blocks, two assists, and two steals in 33 minutes in just three quarters as the do-it-all reinforcement had the luxury to rest the entire fourth period with the Gin Kings enjoying an insurmountable lead.
Scottie Thompson had a conscious effort to be more aggressive on offense, while Japeth Aguilar, Sol Mercado, and Joe Devance also made significant contribution for the Gin Kings.
The Gin Kings broke loose in the second canto where they outscored the Texters, 27-19, and saw Smith suffer the apparent injury, sustaining a huge cushion that ballooned to 32 points late in the game.
Smith went out at the six-minute, 54-second mark of the second quarter and never returned, even leaving the venue early in the fourth quarter with their team doctor to have his foot checked, according to Membrere.
The burly import finished with just seven boards, four points on 2-of-6 shooting, one assist, one steal, and one block in less than 10 minutes of play.
RR Garcia led the Texters with 16 points in the first three quarters, while Mo Tautuaa stepped up in the absence of Smith and finished with 15 points and five boards in 25 minutes that went for naught.
GINEBRA 125 – Brownlee 31, Thompson 17, Aguilar 15, Mercado 12, Devance 10, Ellis 9, Cruz 9, Tenorio 8, Ferrer 5, Mariano 5, Taha 2, Jamito 2, Helterbrand 0, Caguioa 0
TNT 101 – Garcia 16, Tautuaa 15, Carey 11, Reyes 9, Rosario 8, Castro 7, Rosales 7, Hernandez 6, Nuyles 6, Smith 4, Pogoy 4, Semerad 3, De Ocampo 3, Golla 0, Tamsi 0
Quarterscores: 34-28, 61-47, 96-74, 125-101