Rampaging Ginebra weathers Mahindra threat, inches closer to twice-to-beat edge
Ginebra big man Japeth Aguilar goes for a left-handed scoop shot against Mahindra. Jerome Ascano

BARANGAY Ginebra held off a shorthanded yet gritty Mahindra, 93-86, on Friday night to move closer to clinching a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings faced a tough challenge from the giant-killing Enforcer but held on after proving steady down the stretch and benefiting from a crucial flagrant foul called on Mahindra import James White.

Justin Brownlee showed the way anew with 27 points, while Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson provided the most significant support as the Gin Kings jacked up their win-loss record to 7-2 to firm up their hold on the second spot.

The Gin Kings also overcame a scare when Greg Slaughter, right in his first game back from ankle surgery, went down early in the fourth quarter after hurting his right knee, as they handed the Enforcer their fourth loss in 10 games.

“It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure. We’ve played our most disjointed game of the conference and that goes to Mahindra,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “But we didn’t want to be another name on their list.”

The Enforcer, even without injured Nino Canaleta, threatened to live up to their reputation as they stayed within striking distance until White was called for a flagrant foul due to landing-spot violation on Sol Mercado halfway through the payoff period.

The Gin Kings took advantage of the situation as they gained more separation, but still found the Enforcer, despite fielding a unlikely unit composed of unheralded players Raymond Aguilar, AJ Mandani, and Bong Galanza, who went with star guard LA Revilla and White, a tough nut to crack before eventually prevailing.

White tallied a team-leading 23 points, but could’ve contributed more had he played three more minutes that were deducted after picking up the crucial flagrant call.

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The scores:

GINEBRA 93 – Brownlee 27, Aguilar 19, Thompson 12, Caguioa 9, Slaughter 7, Mercado 5, Tenorio 4, Cruz 4, Devance 2, Helterbrand 2, Marcelo 2, Mariano 0

MAHINDRA 86 – White 23, Taha 20, Aguilar 10, Revilla 10, Ramos 7, Digregorio 5, Galanza 4, Bagatsing 3, Agovida 2, Guinto 2, Ballesteros 0, Jaime 0, Mandani 0

Quarterscores: 20-22, 43-34, 63-60, 93-86

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos