BARANGAY Ginebra found out how tough its road to back-to-back titles would be, doing just enough to hold off Rain or Shine, 81-74, on Sunday and barge into the win column of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The reigning Governors’ Cup champions overcame a dismal outside shooting that saw them miss all their 14 treys, as well as a fourth-quarter deficit as they managed to grind out the victory after starting the all-Filipino conference with a loss.
Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance delivered the biggest plays down the stretch for the Gin Kings, who handed the Elasto Painters their first loss in three games.
“It was an ugly win, but we just needed to get one under our belts. We didn’t want to start zero-two,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “Right now, we’ll take these kinds of wins.”
Aguilar posted a double-double of 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 13 boards along with one block and one assist in 36 minutes as he took the cudgels with LA Tenorio misfiring.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar came through with two crucial plays at crunch time, scoring on a contested fade-away jumper after Devance put the Gin Kings ahead for good, before forcing Jay Washington to take a tough shot on the other end to deny the E-Painters of pulling closer.
Devance almost finished with a double-double himself, putting up 13 markers and eight caroms along with two assists, while Scottie Thompson flirted with a triple-double as he tallied seven points, eight boards, and seven assists, and could’ve added more to his stat-line had he been fielded back down the stretch.
After firing 27 points in the loss to TNT KaTropa, Tenorio was held to four points after missing all his six shots in 33 minutes, but the star playmaker made his presence felt in other areas like playmaking (six assists) and rebounding (four).
Raymond Almazan led the E-Painters with 13 points and 15 boards, while James Yap added 10 markers in 17 minutes off the bench that went for naught.
Maverick Ahanmisi added nine points, but was scoreless in the final frame where he missed a handful of shots that would’ve allowed the E-Painters to keep their lead.
GINEBRA 81 – Aguilar 23, Devance 13, Mercado 8, Thompson 7, Caguioa 6, Cruz 6, Helterbrand 4, Mariano 4, Tenorio 4, Ellis 2, Marcelo 2, Taha 2, Ferrer 0
ROS 74 – Almazan 13, Yap 10, Ahanmisi 9, Cruz 9, Belga 7, Washington 7, Norwood 6, Trollano 5, Chan 3, Tolomia 3, Ponferada 2
Quarterscores: 24-21, 40-36, 58-62, 81-74