BARANGAY Ginebra survived a late San Mig Coffee rally for a huge 96-88 victory on Sunday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup before a capacity crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings almost squandered a double-digit fourth-quarter cushion, but held on against the Mixers behind the outside snipings of reigning MVP Mark Caguioa in a battle of the league’s crowd favorites witnessed by nearly 17,000 fans inside the rocking Big Dome.
The Kings’ victory, only their second in seven games, also snapped a five-game skid against their sister team, the defending champion of the import-flavored conference.
“It’s nice to beat the champion team,” Kings coach Alfrancis Chua proclaimed in the post-game interview. “They’re taller than us and bigger than us, but the thing is, we played with heart tonight. “
James Yap and Joe Devance, who scored nine points apiece in the fourth, stood at the forefront of the Mixers’ comeback, which saw them trim a 15-point deficit to just five with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
But Caguioa buried three of his five conversions from beyond the arc from then on to salvage the Kings and keep them in the race for a quarterfinal spot.
It was the Kings’ defense, though, that kept them ahead throughout the game as they limited the Mixers, who dropped to a 3-4 win-loss slate, to only 38.6 percent shooting from the field.
“I keep on telling the boys about defense and wala akong masabi sa ginawa nila kanina sa depensa. And Mark just shone in the last few minutes of the fourth,” Chua said.
“Pinakita lang ni Mark Caguioa na he’s still Mark Caguioa,” the long-haired mentor added.
Kings import Vernon Macklin delivered with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists, while LA Tenorio likewise registered a double-double of 12 points and 13 assists.
GINEBRA 96 - Caguioa 25, Macklin 20, Mamaril 13, Tenorio 12, Ellis 11, Raymundo 6, Labagala 4, Baracael 4, Maierhofer 1.
SAN MIG COFFEE 88 - Bowles 25, Yap 21, Devance 13, Pingris 11, Mallari 4, Barroca 4, Simon 4, De Ocampo 4, Najorda 2, Gaco 0.
Quarterscores: 24-17; 48-35; 67-58; 96-88.