STAR coach Chito Victolero’s fear came true as Justin Brownlee proved to be small but terrible in leading Barangay Ginebra to a 113-98 victory over the Hotshots to get them a rhythm going in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night.
Brownlee, the shortest among this batch of imports at 6 feet 5 inches, stood tallest on this rivalry game as he registered 30 points, 15 boards, six assists, four blocks, and two steals without committing a single turnover in 40 minutes, leaving over 13,000 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena in awe.
The Gin Kings banked on a 19-point third-quarter turnaround before pulling away down the stretch to prevail for the second straight game after starting the conference with a loss, while dealing the Hotshots their first defeat in five games.
“It was a game of runs and this is what you expect from a Manila Clasico,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “They (Hotshots) played great, so we had to lift our game in the second half.”
“It’s just satisfying to beat a quality team like Star,” he added. “It says that we can compete in this conference with Justin.”
In a rematch of their Philippine Cup semifinal series that went the distance, the sister squads engaged each other in a nip-and-tuck battle as expected and saw the Hotshots get the first taste of a significant lead, going up by 12 points in the third quarter.
How fast the Hotshots built the cushion was also how quick the Gin Kings turned it around as they erased the deficit and went up by seven points entering the final frame.
Brownlee led the turnaround, firing 21 of his output in the second half, the last two on a step-back jumper over Tony Mitchell that gave the Gin Kings a 108-96 lead with a little over two minutes left.
LA Tenorio stood tallest among the locals, adding 21 points, two assists, one board, and one steal, while Sol Mercado chipped in 15 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and two blocks off the bench.
Jaepth Aguilar was the Ginebra player in double-digit scoring with 12 points along with six boards, and two blocks, while Scottie Thompson added eight points, seven boards, and four assists.
Mitchell led the Hotshots with 21 points, nine boards, two blocks, and two assists, while Allein Maliksi added 17 markers, although he was scoreless in the payoff period.
GIN 113 – Brownlee 30, Tenorio 21, Mercado 15, Aguilar 12, Thompson 8, Ferrer 8, Devance 7, Caguioa 6, Ellis 4, Marcelo 2
STAR 98 – Mitchell 22, Maliksi 17, Lee 11, Jalalon 10, Barroca 9, Ramos 7, Brondial 7, Mendoza 6, Simon 5, Reavis 4
Quarterscores 26-24, 51-53, 82-75, 113-98