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    Sigh of relief as Ginebra survives searing San Mig fightback to level series

    Feb 5, 2014
    Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra breaks loose for a two-handed dunk. Jerome Ascano

    BARANGAY Ginebra woke up from a fourth-quarter stupor just in time to turn back San Mig Super Coffee, 85-82, and level their PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup semifinal playoff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Mac Baracael hit clutch baskets to pump life into a Ginebra offense that fell silent in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter while LA Tenorio hit three free throws that kept the Kings' head above water in the endgame in the face of a searing San Mig rally.

    Tenorio's two free throws gave Ginebra an 85-82 lead with 5.3 seconds left and the Gin Kings - together with their legion of fans inside a sold-out Big Dome - heaved a collective sigh of relief when James Yap's three-point try rimmed out as the final buzzer sounded.

    That allowed Ginebra to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2 instead of falling into a 1-3 hole, which looked imminent after the league's most popular team let a 16-point third-quarter lead slip away after an 18-0 run by San Mig led by James Yap and rookie Justin Melton.

    The high-leaping Melton’s wide-open three-point shot in the 9:15 mark gave the Mixers their first taste of the lead since early in the second period, 72-70.

    “Hindi nawala ang poise at composure ng mga players. Nag-stick sila sa game plan at lahat ng veterans namin like LA, sila nagdala pati si Eman (Monfort), who did a good job,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin after the game.

    Baracael finished with 20 points while going 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc as he atoned for a disappointing performance in Game Three where he was ejected for successive technicals.

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    Tenorio added 16 and four assists, while Greg Slaughter  added 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

    However, sloppy plays almost ruined what had been a dominant Ginebra show, no thanks to Tenorio’s six turnovers, four in the second half, which led to several fastbreak plays for San Mig.

    Overall, Ginebra turned the ball over 22 times in the game, 13 in the second half.

    But in the end, Monfort’s three-point shot off the glass triggered a 13-6 windup, capped by two crucial free throws by Tenorio, which gave the Gin Kings the much-needed cushion in the end.

    Yap led the Mixers with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in his best game in the series, while Devance and Mark Barroca chipped in 13 and 10, respectively.

    The scores:

    Ginebra 85 - Baracael 20, Tenorio 16, Slaughter 11, Ellis 9, Aguilar 7, Caguioa 7, Helterbrand 5, Monfort 5, Reyes 3, Mamaril 2.

    San Mig 82 - Yap 20, Devance 13, Barroca 10, Melton 9, Pingris 7, Sangalang 7, Mallari 6, Simon 5, Reavis 5, De Ocampo 0.

    Quarterscores: 21-20, 46-43, 70-56, 85-82

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    Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra breaks loose for a two-handed dunk. Jerome Ascano
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