Barangay Ginebra punched a ticket to the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals by way of a masterful 104-90 win over the higher-seeded Meralco Bolts on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee lit up with 36 points, including 17 in the second period that proved to be the game-changer, while hauling down six rebounds and dishing out nine assists. He also had three steals.
Greg Slaughter posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar combined for 21 markers.
"We knew they'd come out and punch us in the mouth right off the bat. They really got a good start. But we took a punch and came back. We're able to come out and throw our own punch in the third quarter," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
"We'll start preparing now for the semifinals. Hopefully we get to the next phase after."
The Gin Kings nearly blew an 18-point lead early in the fourth period, but recovered right away and put on a clinic to cap the best-of-three affair that catapulted them to the semifinals against the winner between Rain or Shine and GlobalPort.
With their conference on the line, the Bolts refused to just roll over and die. Meralco sparked a 14-2 run to come to within six, 81-87 highlighted by Chris Newsome's booming triple.
But the Gin Kings were quick to restore order, scoring seven quick points instigated by Tenorio's corner triple. From there, things went downhill for the Bolts.
"It really came down to that LA shot in the corner. It was just LA being LA. Such a big moment guy. That's a big moment shot. We were on our heels until that big shot," Cone said.
Behind Brownlee, the Gin Kings overhauled a 10-point deficit in the opening period and got their bearing going in the second period.
They sustained that pace coming off the halftime break. Ginebra pooled five straight points to take a 61-51 buffer and led by as high as 18 points in the fourth period on Japeth Aguilar's split, 85-67.
Arinze Onuaku paced Meralco with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Newsome had 17 markers, four boards and the same number of assists.
Baser Amer and Reynel Hugnatan chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
GINEBRA 104 - Brownlee 36, Slaughter 14, Tenorio 11, Aguilar 10, Mercado 9, Devance 8, Thompson 4, Ferrer 2, Caguioa 2, Mariano 0, Manuel 0.
MERALCO 90 - Onuaku 21, Newsome 17, Amer 11, Hugnatan 10, Caram 6, Dillinger 6, De Ocampo 6, Hodge 6, Lanete 3, Baracael 2, Canaleta 2, Ballesteros 0, Bono 0, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 24-28; 56-51; 79-65; 104-90.
Ginebra has won its last seven games since the elimination round.
Brownlee unloaded four three-pointers and the Gin Kings took a 56-51 lead at the half after being down by as much as 10 early on.