The Barangay Ginebra Kings surged in the second half to fend off the Meralco Bolts, 110-95, and notch their first victory in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee delivered 27 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and four blocks to help the Kings bounce back from their opening game loss to Blackwater last Friday.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone gave credit to his assistant Richard del Rosario and the rest of the coaching staff for steering the team to a masterful comeback win.
"Richard and the staff did most of the talking and most of the coaching in the second half and the players responded very well," said Cone. "We were Jekyll and Hyde. It's like when we were in the locker room, we turned off the lights, and when we turned on the lights, we were a completely different team."
Ginebra more than doubled Meralco's output in the third quarter to turn an 11-point halftime deficit into an 11-point lead.
The Bolts inched within one after opening the fourth with 10 unanswered points, highlighted by back-to-back triples from Baser Amer and Trevis Jackson, but the Kings quickly regained the momentum and the double-digit advantage.
Japeth Aguilar made some crucial plays down the stretch to finish with 19 points and six rebounds. Art dela Cruz added 16 points, while Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson combined for 25.
"We played as badly as we could in that first half, we looked as if we didn't have any fight," said Cone. "It was so discouraging. They talked about it at halftime, and they came out and played with so much fight there in the second half. I couldn't be prouder of this group in terms of turning that game around. "
Lawal's 38-point and 20-rebound performance went for naught for the Bolts, who suffered their second loss in three outings. He poured 22 points in the first half alone to give his team a huge cushion before the Kings found their groove after the break.
Ginebra 110 - Brownlee 27, Aguilar 19, Dela Cruz 16, Mercado 14, Thompson 11, Slaughter 8, Mariano 8, Tenorio 4, Ferrer 3, Cruz 0, Caperal 0.
Meralco 95 - Lawal 38, Amer 10, Newsome 8, Hodge 7, Salva 6, Pinto 6, Canaleta 6, De Ocampo 5, Hugnatan 4, Jackson 3, Tolomia 2, Quinto 0, Caram 0.
Quarterscores: 16-28, 43-54, 82-71, 110-95.
- The Kings distributed the ball well as they finished with 35 assists, compared to the Bolts' 20. Thompson accounted for 10 dimes, while Brownlee and Mercado had eight each.
- Jeff Chan did not play due to a right ankle sprain that he sustained in Ginebra's overtime loss to Blackwater last Friday.
Meralco - May 31 (Friday) vs Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at Mall of Asia Arena
Ginebra - June 1 (Saturday) vs NorthPort Batang Pier at Mall of Asia Arena