Unlike their matchups in the last Commissioner's Cup Finals, the elimination round meeting between the San Miguel Beermen and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel was an instant classic that needed five extra minutes.
In the end, the defending champions simply had more gas left in the tank as Ginebra pulled out a 110-107 win against SMB, Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee had another monster performance with 39 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists beating out his fellow Best Import of the Conference awardee Charles Rhodes who finished with 34 markers, 12 boards, and three blocks.
Rhodes was not able to finish the game as he fouled out in the overtime period.
Ginebra upped their record to an even 3-3 while the Beermen fell to 1-3.
In the overtime period, LA Tenorio made a couple of big plays for Ginebra. First, he nailed a jump shot to give the lead to the Kings 104-102. On the very next play, he drew an offensive foul from Rhodes, which happened to be the sixth foul of the SMB import. Ginebra was able to stretch its lead to five, 109-104, but the Beermen gamely fought back.
With 11.6 seconds remaining, SMB had the ball down by two, 109-107. However, the Kings defended the play well and only allowed a long off-balanced three-point attempt from Chris Ross that did not even hit the rim.
Tenorio split his charities on the other side while the buzzer beating attempt from Alex Cabagnot was a little short.
The Ginebra guard was Brownlee's main backup with 16 points. Greg Slaughter and Scottie Thompson finished with double-doubles with the big man getting 13 points and 18 rebounds and last season's Commissioner's Cup Finals MVP coming up with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"I'm blessed to be part of another milestone with Ginebra," Brownlee said after helping his team pick up their 1,000th win in franchise history. It was also the 100th PBA win for the incomparable import.
After a tight contest midway through the first quarter, San Miguel got the step on Ginebra. The Beermen were holding a slim 12-11 lead when they caught fire with a 14-0 run started by a dunk from Rhodes as they led 26-11 heading into the last minute of the opening period.
Ginebra began to chip away at the lead early in the second period and it took them no time at all to recover from their early 15-point deficit as Greg Slaughter completed an and-one with 7:38 remaining in the first half to retake the lead, 31-30.
The Kings also got key contributions from their bench as Sol Mercado and Kevin Ferrer connected on back-to-back triples but the Beermen managed to stay ahead despite a 33-point second quarter from the defending champions.
Two free throws from Rhodes gave the Beermen a 50-48 advantage heading into the halftime.
Early in the third quarter, it was neck-and-neck as was expected from the two heavyweights that have struggled to open their respective campaigns in the second conference. Like what happened last season in the Commissioner's Cup, the two had their elimination round meeting early after poor starts due to import changes. Even though they had a slow start, San Miguel Beer and Ginebra still met each other in the Finals.
The third quarter had a fiery start with Tenorio's triple being answered by Chris Ross' own long bomb. Joe Devance also hit a triple but Marcio Lassiter came up with a response. Ginebra led by as much as nine points midway through the third, 65-56, off a Tenorio layup but SMB bounced back as Fajado tied the count at 69-all. Ginebra held a slim 80-77 lead heading into the fourth as Von Pessumal missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer.
With the Beermen down by five points halfway through the fourth, Rhodes started to take over. He scored on a layup and back-to-back dunks to grab the lead for SMB, 93-92 with four minutes remaining.
However, the champs responded in a big way with Tenorio sinking a mid-range jumper, which was quickly followed by a Brownlee triple to retake the lead, 99-95. The game was tied until the very end of the final period with Rhodes getting a golden chance to take the lead for SMB. He tied the count at 99 with an and-one opportunity but missed on the bonus.
Both sides then came up empty, with Brownlee and Rhodes failing to hit the rim on their game-winning attempts.
The starters of SMB played heavy minutes in the game with all of them clocking in at least 41 minutes. Ross played the most with 49 minutes and 30 seconds. Brownlee, on the other end, did not take a break in the entire game, playing all 53 minutes.
Cabagnot was SMB's second leading scorer with 21 points but he did not shoot well from the field (6-of-23). Arwind Santos only played five minutes in the game because of a sprained right hand.
Ginebra 110 - Brownlee 39, Tenorio 16, Slaughter 13, Thompson 13, Mercado 12, Aguilar 9, Ferrer 5, Devance 3.
San Miguel 107 - Rhodes 34, Cabagnot 21, Lassiter 15, Fajardo 13, Ross 11, Standhardinger 10, Pessumal 3, Rosser 0, Santos 0.
Quarterscores: 15-26, 48-50, 80-77, 99-99, 110-107.
-- Kelly Nabong and Ronald Tubid made it back into the lineup of the Beermen after serving out their three-game suspension due to their involvement in the Spider-Man brouhaha in Game 5 of the 2019 Philippine Cup Finals. The two were also fined 75,000 each.
-- Terrence Romeo was not in uniform for SMB while Jeff Chan, Arthur Dela Cruz, and Jared Dillinger were also not available for Barangay Ginebra.
-- Chris Ross became the second local to pick up a triple-double this conference after Jayson Castro and the third overall after Terrence Jones. Ross had 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in the game.
San Miguel Beer: June 21 (Friday) vs Alaska Aces at the Cuneta Astrodome
Barangay Ginebra: June 23 (Sunday) vs NLEX Road Warriors at the Batangas City Coliseum