Justin Brownlee battered Rain or Shine on all fronts, but Barangay Ginebra had to go through the wringer before coming away with a thrilling 75-72 win in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Brownlee did almost everything for the Kings, especially when the Elasto Painters stormed back from what was once a seemingly insurmountable 24-point lead.
The American reinforcement put up a Herculean effort of 44 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, five steals, and a block.
Ginebra is now on the cusp of the finals after taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Game Four is on July 23, 7:00 P.M. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"I got it going early and tried to stay aggressive all throughout the game," said Brownlee.
LA Tenorio chipped in 13 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while Greg Slaughter added eight markers and five boards.
The Elasto Painters slowly chewed chunks of a 61-39 deficit. Before they knew it, they were able to trim the gap to two on Reggie Johnson's short stab off an inbound pass from Gabe Norwood, 72-74, with 9.8 ticks to go.
Tenorio was fouled in the ensuing play but made only one from the line, giving Rain or Shine the chance to send the game into overtime with less than seven seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for the Elasto Painters, James Yap couldn't find an open look with Scottie Thompson hounding him. He had to take a forced three-pointer from way beyond the arc that went short as time expired.
Brownlee is expecting competition to be just as tough as the Kings go for the kill on Monday.
"It's gonna be difficult. Rain or Shine is a tough team," he said.
Behind Brownlee, who shot 4-of-5 from three-point area in the first half, the Gin Kings zoomed to a 24-10 start and took a 23-point lead heading into the break, 46-23.
Rain or Shine showed signs of life in the third period with a 10-to-nothing spurt capped by a booming Chris Tiu triple, 33-46.
But Ginebra was quick to restore order. A couple of triples by LA Tenorio and another from Brownlee later, the Gin Kings seized control anew, 61-39.
Johnson paced Rain or Shine with 13 points and 22 rebounds. Raymond Almazan and Ed Daquioag added 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Ginebra 75 - Brownlee 44, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Ferrer 3, Chan 3, Devance 2, J. Aguilar 2, Thompson 0, Caguioa 0, Cruz 0, Mercado 0.
Rain or Shine 72 - Johnson 13, Almazan 12, Daquioag 11, Yap 9, Tiu 6, Belga 6, Nambatac 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 2, Washington 2, Borboran 0, Ponferada 0, Torres 0.
Quarterscores 24-10, 46-23, 61-41, 75-72.
- Scottie Thompson wound up scoreless but registered 10 rebounds, eight assists, and two steals.
- Justin Brownlee scored 25 points in the first 24 minutes of action. His output in the first two quarters was two points more than Rain or Shine's in the first half.
- While Brownlee heated up, Reggie Johnson hardly made his presence felt in the first half. He had 2 points - without a field goal - and eight rebounds after two quarters.
- Jeff Chan and Beau Belga, former comrades at Rain or Shine, were slapped with technical fouls for verbal altercation with 9:29 remaining in the fourth period.