BARANGAY Ginebra's Never-Say-Die lives on.
At least for now.
Playing with a lot of urgency and the pride of a defending champion, the Kings dealt Phoenix Fuel Masters a 95-85 drubbing to clinch the remaining quarterfinals berth of the PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym.
Ginebra vs Phoenix playoff recap
Inserted in the starting unit, big man Prince Caperal gamely filled in the shoes left by the injured Japeth Aguilar by firing a team-high 19 points, including a trio of three pointers to keep alive the team's fading title-retention bid.
"We're struggling, but we're just able to carry our winning attitude," said Caperal afterwards.
"Never-say-die lang talaga."
While Ginebra lived for another day and advanced in the playoffs, it now faces the daunting task of beating top seed TnT Tropang Giga twice in a row to make the semifinals.
"Here we are. This is what we expected. We didn't expect to be in this kind of game coming into this thing. But you have a choice, you either keep going or back off. And our guys decided to keep going," said coach Tim Cone, who is in the playoffs for the 39th straight conferences.
Stanley Pringle added 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, big man Christian Standhardinger had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Jared Dillinger added 13 points as part of the Kings' starting five.
Phoenix, which lost big man Justine Chua just hours before the game after being placed in the league's health and safety protocols, was in the game the entire first quarter and early in the second period.
But Ginebra began to take control when the Fuel Masters started missing their shots, taking with them a 49-38 lead at the break after holding Phoenix top gun Matthew Wright scoreless in the first half on a 0-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Wright caught fire in the second half by pouring in 14 points, by which time however, the reigning champions were already in command of a game that was lacking in thrill and drama of a sudden-death match.
Wright finished 5-of-22 from the field, added five rebounds, and eight assists for the Fuel Masters, who failed to duplicate their playoffs feat last season when they came just a victory away from earning a first ever trip to the finals in franchis history.
Jason Perkins had a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds, Chris Banchero also had 14 but missed a couple of easy layups, RJ Jazul with 12, and Jake Pascual a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix, which shot a measly 33 percent from the field.
Ginebra (95) - Caperal 19, Pringle 17, Standhardinger 15, Dillinger 13, Tenorio 9, Mariano 8, Devance86, Ayaay 4, Chan 2.
Phoenix (85) - Perkins 15, Banchero 14, Wright 14, Jazul 12, Pascual 11, Demusis 9, Muyang 5, Rios 3, Garcia 2, Calisaan 0.
Quarterscores: 22-20; 49-38; 79-66; 95-85.
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