Justin Brownlee and Stanley Pringle hit big shots down the stretch as Barangay Ginebra scraped past Magnolia, 85-79, in Game 1 of the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Brownlee uncorked a three-pointer to break the deadlock, Pringle made a layup against Rakeem Christmas, and Greg Slaughter capped it off with a three-point play as the Gin Kings moved on the cusp of advancing to the semifinals.
The two teams square off anew on Tuesday.
""We've been here twice before already, won first game and got swept.We're not ready to celebrate anything at this point. We know how good they are," said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone.
Cone, though, knew they played so poorly that it felt like they lost.
"As much as we won, we feel like we lost," Cone told reporters after the game.
The veteran mentor, owner of the most number of championships in league history, said the Hotshots did a splendid job on defense against the Gin Kings.
"Magnolia did really a good job. They really kept the pace slow. They did a really good job of limiting the touches of Justin (Brownlee) and (Stanley) Pringle," he said.
Brownlee and Pringle, though, still combined for 30 shots. The reigning Best Import finished with 20, while the spitfire guard fired 18 points including four three-pointers.
Still, Cone is optimistic they will find a way against the team whose hallmark has been its suffocating defense.
"We gotta find a solution to make the game easier for Justin and Stan," he said.
Ginebra 85 - Brownlee 20, Pringle 18, Aguilar 14, Tenorio 11, Devance 6, Thompson 6, Slaughter 6, Caguioa 4, Mariano 0.
Magnolia 79 - Lee 24, Christmas 18, Barroca 11, Sangalang 10, Dela Rosa 5, Jalalon 5, Simon 4, Reavis 2, Gamalinda 0, Ramos 0, Melton 0, Pingris 0, Brondial 0.
Quarters: 26-23, 48-44, 66-60, 85-79
-Christmas finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists. In his debut game, he had an underwhelming eight-point job for the Hotshots.
-Magnolia made a living out of its defense, scoring 22 points off turnovers to go with 13 fastbreak points.
Game 2 - Tuesday 4:30 PM at Smart-Araneta Coliseum