The two-year title reign of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA Governors' Cup is over.
The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok took a 112-108 win in Game 4 to advance Friday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Hobbled Magnolia import Romeo Travis finished with 50 points on 20-of-26 shooting from the field while adding 13 rebounds to lead Magnolia. Jio Jalalon and Paul Lee converted on crucial free throws to seal the deal and book Magnolia's ticket to the PBA Finals, winning the series 3-1.
"All heart. Adrenaline. I did not want to play Game 5. I could not play Game 5," Travis said, admitting his leg is in bad shape. "The break is huge, if we didn't have a break, I probably could not play today."
Magnolia now awaits the winner of the series between Alaska and Meralco where the Aces lead, 2-1.
It looked like things were going to fall apart for Magnolia late in the fourth quarter when Lee's shot was blocked by Justin Brownlee which the Hotshots thought should have been a goal-tending violation. Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero was whistled for a technical foul forbarging into the playing court, leading to an LA Tenorio free throw to extend Ginebra's lead to three, 104-101. Brownlee added two more makes from the stripe to make it a five-point game but the Hotshots remained resolute.
An inside basket for Travis was quickly followed by two free throws from Jalalon to cut the deficit to one, 106-105. Ian Sangalang then issued a perfect pass to Travis inside for an and-one play, scoring his 50th point to give Magnolia a 108-106 lead.
Ginebra tried to extend the game by fouling but Jalalon and Lee were steady from the line.
Sangalang was Travis' main backup with 14 points, six rebounds, and six assists in the game while Lee added 11 points. Magnolia got a huge lift from their second unit who outscored their Ginebra counterparts 36-16. Aside from Lee's 11, the Hotshots bench banked on Jalalon and rookie Rob Herndon who combined for 17 points.
Heading into Game 4 there were reports that Travis was hurting and that Magnolia was looking for a backup import. However, he quickly dispelled the rumors with a rock-solid performance in the first half where he led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.
For Ginebra, it was Aguilar who led their attack in the first 24 minutes as he dropped 16 points, including a late three-point shot to give them a 53-51 advantage at the half.
The Kings banked on their ball movement as they had 17 assists in the first half compared to only 10 for Magnolia.
Fouls were a huge problem for the Hotshots as Jalalon was whistled for three early ones in the first quarter while Barroca was tagged with his fifth foul late in the third. Even though they were dealing with foul troubles, Magnolia stayed in pace with Ginebra with their bench providing decent contributions.
In the third, PJ Simon and Herndon made big contributions from the three-point range in the limited minutes they played as Magnolia scored 31 and 30 in the second and third periods, respectively, to grab an 81-79 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Travis dominated the proceedings in the early part of the fourth quarter but the Kings stayed in the game with key makes from the free throw line. Ginebra made a move on Magnolia midway through the fourth as Brownlee scored on an and-one play to give them the lead, 92-91.
It looked like Ginebra was going to force a do-or-die game on Sunday but the Hotshots would not be denied in the end game.
Brownlee suffered his first early exit of the Governors' Cup but still had a strong performance with 32 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Aguilar added 25 points while Thompson and Tenorio added 12 each.
The missing piece in Ginebra's attack was Greg Slaughter who only had seven points and two rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
Magnolia 112 - Travis 50, Sangalang 14, Lee 11, Jalalon 9, Herndon 8, Barroca 8, Simon 6, Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 2, Melton 0, Brondial 0.
Ginebra 108 - Brownlee 32, Aguilar 25, Thompson 12, Tenorio 12, Devance 11, Slaughter 7, Mercado 5, Chan 2, Mariano 2, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 20-27, 51-53, 81-79, 112-108
-- Usually known for their defense, it was firepower that won the game for the Hotshots as they scored more than 30 points in the last three quarters.
-- The Hotshots were decent from the three-point range, making nine of their 23 tries but they were close to perfect from the free throw line making 19 of 20.