Red-hot Ginebra goes on vintage comeback, extends misery of falling Star
Sol Mercado gets into a shouting match with Star import Joel Wright. Jaime Campos

BARANGAY Ginebra launched a comeback reminiscent of its glory days, shaking off a poor start to beat Star, 116-103, in a PBA Governors Cup game that drew one of the biggest crowds this season.

Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado and Justine Brownlee starred in a fightback that saw Ginebra overhaul an early 17-point deficit and win with plenty to spare before a crowd of 16,460 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Brownlee pumped in 38 points as he kept the Gin Kings afloat in the first half, before leading their game-clinching surge in the second half with Tenorio, Aguilar and the back-in-form Mercado.

The Gin Kings have now won five of their last six games – and six in eight games overall – to gain a share of second spot with Mahindra, just a half-game behind pacesetting TNT Katropa, and clinch a place in the playoffs.

“Yes, I enjoy it very much. Parang championship,” said Go when he made a brief visit to the press room at halftime.

[See Patrimonio figures in verbal spat with Japeth's dad]

They also left the Hotshots reeling to the bottom with their sixth loss in seven games.

“We were a little bit shell-shocked with the way they started and it took us a while to get over that,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “But we kind of broke their spirit and we just carried it until the end.”

Trailing, 49-32, late in the second quarter, the Gin Kings mounted on a familiar comeback behind Brownlee, Aguilar, Mercado, and Tenorio as they clawed back and finally knotted the count with less than five minutes left in the third quarter.

Aguilar finished with 21 points and six boards, while Mercado added 14 points, seven assists, and four rebounds for the Gin Kings, who sustained the momentum to build a lead that grew to 19 points near the end of the game.

Tenorio also delivered with 13 points and five assists, while backcourt partner Scottie Thompson bolstered his reputation as one of the best-rebounding guards in the league with 10 boards on top of six points and two assists.

[See Wright taunt on Brownlee goes wrong]

Joel Wright led the Hotshots with 31 points, including 14 in the first period, but hardly looked a factor after that as his team’s lead dwindled.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos