In the midst of another offensive onslaught in the third quarter, San Miguel Beermen import Renaldo Balkman was left isolated on the perimeter against Barangay Ginebra's Joe Devance. The veteran gave a quick jab step, then used that speedy and smooth release to fire a jumper over Balkman's outstretched arms.
The ball went in cleanly, as it did seemingly throughout the entire evening for Devance and the Gin Kings. All Balkman could do was walk away, a picture of frustration and disgust, and wish that time would speed up and they could get to Game 2.
Barangay Ginebra struck first in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup finals, dealing the defending champions San Miguel Beermen a crushing 127-99 defeat in Game 1 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
Behind a brilliant scoring performance from import Justin Brownlee, Ginebra overwhelmed San Miguel with its stellar offense from everywhere on the floor. Brownlee had a game-high 42 points for Ginebra on a scintillating 17-of-19 from the field, highlighted by a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line. He also chipped in seven rebounds, nine assists and two blocks.
"Coach has been talking about all playoffs we've got to try and come out aggressive and win Game 1," Brownlee said. "I was just trying to do exactly that and come out aggressive, look for my teammates and try to take advantage of every advantage I had. Luckily I got some shots to go in and got some rhythm."
Brownlee busted out of the gates early with 29 points in the first half, part of an early 15-point advantage held by Ginebra after the first period when it led 35-20. He was in a scoring groove immediately, missing only one shot the entire half.
Veteran Mark Caguioa also chipped in heavily in the first half, tallying nine points as Ginebra finished the first half with a 69-50 lead.
The Beermen made some headway in the third quarter, as Christian Standhardinger and Balkman combined for a 10-0 run that trimmed the deficit to 15 points with 52 seconds remaining in the period. However, Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar dashed all comeback attempts by scoring four straight points to give Ginebra a 19 point advantage again after three quarters, 94-75.
Veteran Joe Devance chipped in with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists, followed by Greg Slaughter with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
Balkman led the Beermen with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Standhardinger came off the bench to contribute 25 points and 8 rebounds. It was a quiet night for league MVP June Mar Fajardo, as he finished with just 13 points and 12 rebounds.
"We came out, and we were aggressive, and we played with confidence," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said. "We knew we had to be at a high level to beat this team. We knew that San Miguel has such a tremendous record in Game 1, so we wanted to come out and steal that first game. "
The Beermen will try to even up the series on Sunday in Game 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra shot 62 percent from the field and led by as much as 39 points in the fourth quarter. It finished 13-of-25 from 3, and shot 52 percent overall from the field. San Miguel on shot 39 percent.
Joe Devance's 3 in the third quarter was the 500th 3-pointer of his career, the 41st player in PBA history to hit that milestone. He's currently 19th among active players in three pointers made.
Chris Ross tweaked his ankle in the fourth quarter and had to head to the locker room. After the game, he confirmed that he will be able to play in Game 2.
Ginebra 127 -- Brownlee 42, Devance 20, Slaughter 11, Caguioa 11, Mercado 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 7, Ferrer 7, Mariano 4, Chan 2, Cruz 2, Aguilar 2, Caperal 0, Manuel 0.
San Miguel 99 -- Balkman 27, Standhardinger 26, Fajardo 13, Santos 8, Lassiter 6, Cabagnot 5, Nabong 5, Ross 4, Lanete 3, Pessumal 0
Quarters: 35-20, 69-50, 94-75, 127-99.
PBA Commissioner's Cup finals Game 2: San Miguel Beermen vs Barangay Ginebra (July 29, Smart-Araneta Coliseum)