BARANGAY Ginebra bucked a slow start to nip NLEX, 105-96, and kept its hopes alive of notching the no. 2 seed in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Kings found themselves trailing by as many as 18 points in the opening half, but got their acts together just in time to outplay the Road Warriors in a closely fought endgame at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga Saturday night.
Ginebra stretched its winning streak at three and improved to 6-3 overall as it continues to crowd out Rain or Shine (8-3) and TnT Katropa (7-3) in the mad race for the no. 2 spot that carries a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
Japeth Aguilar, the pride of Sasmuan, Pampanga, showed the way for the Kings in the Petron Blaze Saturday special with 27 points, including eight of the team's last nine points inside the final two minutes.
The veteran big man also added eight rebounds while shooting 10-of-18 from the field.
LA Tenorio added 17 points while Scottie Thompson, Kevin Ferrer, and Greg Slaughter each had 14 points for Ginebra, which continue to miss the services of do-it-all forward Joe Devance.
John Paul Erram finished with 16 points and JR Quinahan had 15 in a losing cause for NLEX, which enjoyed as much as a 42-24 lead in the second period following a three-pointer by Erram.
Juami Tiongson and Bong Galanza finished with 12 points each for the Road Warriors, who failed to give Pampanga's beloved son, coach Yeng Guiao, in front of his provincemates.
More so, the loss stopped the Road Warriors two-game winning run and hurt their chances of notching a playoffs berth.
At 4-6, NLEX now needs to win its final elimination round assignment to stay alive for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Ginebra (105) - Aguilar 27, Tenorio 17, Thompson 14, Ferrer 14, Slaughter 14, Chan 7, Dela Cruz 7, Mariano 4, Mercado 1, Caperal 0.
NLEX (96) - Erram 16, Quinahan 15, Tiongson 12, Galanza 12, Paniamogan 8, Ighalo 8, Tallo 8, Magat 6, Lao 5, Soyud 3, Taulava 3, Baguio 0.
Quarterscores: 30-19; 51-46, 72-74, 96-105