BARANGAY Ginebra proved it can win a tight battle for once as it survived Star in overtime, 105-101, to sustain the momentum in its PBA Governors’ Cup title defense on Sunday night before a packed crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings, who have won by an average of 15.4 points in five games this conference, squandered a chance to win the game outright in regulation but delivered in the extra session to the relief of their fans from the crowd of over 15,000 at the Big Dome.
The Gin Kings struggled from charity stripe all-game long, but Justin Brownlee hit the free throw that mattered most and gave them the lead for good at 102-101 with a minute and 39 seconds left as they stretched their win streak to six games after starting their title defense with a loss.
The Hotshots, who gained a new lease of life after Malcolm Hill made three free throws on Japeth Aguilar's foul with .6 of a second left in regulation, slumped to their second straight loss after starting the conference with four straight wins.
“It’s a classic Clasico game,” a relieved Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “It’s always a special facing Purefoods.”
“This was our first close game this conference,” he added. “We hung around, hung around, and basically, I felt we stole it, because they outplayed us.”
Brownlee registered 33 points, 10 boards, five assists, two steals, and one block as Ginebra’s do-it-all import scored whenever and wherever the Gin Kings needed him to, finally converting from the foul line in overtime to put them up for good.
Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter added 17 points apiece, while LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar were the other double-digit scores for Ginebra as Scottie Thompson continued to stuff the stats sheet with seven points, 10 boards, and six assists.
Thompson, however, went 1-of-6 from the free-throw line and even airballed one attempt with the game on the line.
Ginebra made just 14 of 30 attempts from the stripe overall.
The Gin Kings had a chance to win in regulation as they went up 95-92, after Joe Devance split his charities with two seconds left.
The Hotshots, however, stayed alive as Malcolm Hill drew a last-second foul on Aguilar from the three-point line. The 21-year-old import continued to show poise beyond his years by knocking down all his three free throws to send the game into overtime.
It was still a nip-and-tuck affair form there before Brownlee hit the marginal charity and Aguilar atoned for his late foul with a putback that gave them a two-possession lead.
GINEBRA 105 – Brownlee 33, Devance 17, Slaughter 17, Tenorio 13, Aguilar 12, Thompson 7, Ferrer 4, Taha 2, Mercado 0, Cruz 0
STAR 101 – Hill 28, Lee 22, Barroca 14, Ramos 11, Sangalang 10, Reavis 10, Maliksi 4, Jalalon 2, Melton 0, Simon 0, Pingris 0
Quarterscores: 21-25, 40-45, 73-70, 95-95, 105-101