GINEBRA legend Robert Jaworski showed up at the Gin Kings' dugout at halftime, exhorting every single player to show the team's never-say-die spirit of old.
No one took the words to heart more than rookie Greg Slaughter.
Showing toughness and maturity well beyond his years, the 6-11 freshman center carried Ginebra on his back in the final stretch of a Game Six thriller as the Kings beat San Mig, 94-91, on Monday night to force a do-or-die game in their PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup semifinal playoff.
THe 6-11 big man from Cebu had 20 points and 11 rebounds and towered above everybody else in the final stretch, scoring seven of his team's final 10 points when the Kings made the decisive charge before a sellout crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Slaughter, the top pick overall in this season's rookie draft, capped a dominant performance with the rebound off a PJ Simon miss and the two free throws that put Ginebra on top, 94-91, with two seconds left.
When James Yap's desperation heave from near mid-court fell way short at the buzzer, pro-Ginebra fans who had been on the edge of their seats for the most part of the game erupted in celebration as the crowd darlings levelled the best-of-seven series, 3-3.
Slaughter's late heroics capped an amazing comeback from 13 points down for the Gin Kings, who got a pep talk from former Ginebra playing-coach Jaworski at halftime.
"Malaking bagay si Jawo. It (pep talk) inspired the players," said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin.
Slaughter later took to Twitter to send his thoughts about the game and the series: "Thank you kabarangay for believing in us today! It’s not the time to celebrate! Lets finish the job in #Game7#NEVERSAYDIE"
The two sister teams now clash for the last time on Wednesday for the right to face Rain or Shine in the finals of the league's all-Filipino conference.
Ginebra skipper Mark Caguioa also had a splendid game with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting while LA Tenorio added 16. Slaughter's frontline partner Japeth Aguilar had 13 points but was a non-factor in the endgame after riding the bench due to five fouls for much of the final quarter.
Ginebra's late push put to naught a gutsy performance from Marc Pingris, who scored 20 points and kept San Mig's head above water with back-to-back baskets that gave it an 86-83 lead entering the final five-minute mark.
Ginebra 94 - Caguioa 21, Slaughter 20, Tenorio 16, Aguilar 13, Baracael 9, Helterbrand 5, Ellis 4, Reyes 4, Mamaril 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.
San Mig 91 - Pingris 20, Simon 17, Barroca 14, Sangalang 12, Reavis 9, Yap 9, Melton 5, Devance 3, Mallari 2, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 22-24, 41-50, 73-74, 94-91