BARANGAY Ginebra drew first blood in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals after outsteadying Magnolia, 85-79, on Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Justin Brownlee and Stanley Pringle hit the dagger shots down the stretch to help the Kings break away from a 77-77 tie and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
The fourth-seeded Kings can complete a sweep of the quarterfinal playoff with another victory in Game Two on Tuesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Brownlee hit a three-pointer with 4:40 left to shatter the 77-all deadlock, before Pringle scored on a layup to keep the Hotshots at bay.
Greg Slaughter's three-point play off a Pringle miss made it a five-point Ginebra lead with 2:06 left and a couple of defensive stops got the job done in the end.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said there is no reason to celebrate after barely pulling through against what he described as a 'great defensive game' by Magnolia.
“Magnolia did a really good job of muddling up the game with their defense,” Cone said.
“They kept the pace slow and they did a great job of limiting the touches of Justin and Stanley. Really, really great defensive game by them.”
“Obviously, we are not ready to celebrate anything at this point. We know how good they are,” said Cone.
Brownlee finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds while Pringle added 18 points for the Gin Kings, who are looking to avenge playoff losses to Magnolia in the league's last two conferences.
Paul Lee topscored with 24 points while Rakeem Christmas added 18 points and 14 rebounds but couldn't keep the Hotshots from falling to a fifth straight defeat.
Barangay Ginebra 85 – Brownlee 20, Pringle 18, J. Aguilar 14, Tenorio 11, Thompson 6, Slaughter 6, Devance 6, Caguioa 4, Mariano 0.
Magnolia 79 – Lee 24, Christmas 18, Barroca 11, Sangalang 10, Jalalon 5, Dela Rosa 5, Simon 4, Reavis 2, Melton 0, Gamalinda 0, Pingris 0, Ramos 0, Brondial 0.
Quarters: 26-23; 48-44; 66-60; 85-79.