Barangay Ginebra extended their PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-five semifinals with an 80-72 win over TNT KaTropa in Game 3 on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Neither team shot above 40 percent but Ginebra did enough in the fourth quarter to avoid the sweep. Justin Brownlee scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth period and added 11 rebounds and eight assists in the win.
Terrence Jones paced TNT with 24 points and 18 boards, but went 8-for-25 from the field and had more turnovers (eight) than assists (four).
Game 4 is on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Well, we got one, but one obviously is not good enough. It was a real struggle just to get one," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said. "We're still alive and kicking. We're still moving forward so that's good news. The bad news is it was tough just to get one game. It was really tough."
Ginebra entered the half with a comfortable 42-32 advantage after holding TNT to a paltry 31.1 percent shooting from the field in the first two quarter. The third quarter, though, provided some uneasy moments for the Kings as Jones and Troy Rosario conspired to make it a close affair heading into the final period.
Back-to-back threes by Stanley Pringle and Justin Brownlee coming off KaTropa turnovers gave Ginebra a 65-60 breathing room early in the fourth until TNT slowly chipped the lead away in the final minutes to trail by just two, 74-72, after a wide-open drive to the hoop by Jayson Castro.
That would be the last time that the KaTropa would score, though, as Ginebra clamped up on the defensive end and knocked down six of their eight free throws in the final two minutes to put the game out of reach.
"We gotta see if we could turn it around and try to get two. And the old cliche-one at a time-that's what it really is. The reason it's a cliche is everyone says it and it's always true: you have to play it one by one. We got one more in front of us," said Cone.
LA Tenorio led Ginebra in scoring with 16 points, while Joe Devance and Scottie Thompson added 13 and 10, respectively.
"If those two guys come out and shoot and hit shots, then it opens up the game for everybody else. Because right now their game plan is to stop Stanley, stop Justin and collapse on the big guys and keep one eye on LA and kind of completely ignore Joe and Scottie," Cone said.
Ginebra's sterling work on defense was key as TNT shot just 5-for-34 (14.7 percent) from downtown, a far cry from when the KaTropa poured 16-of-44 threes in Game 2.
Rosario added 12 points and five rebounds, while Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro scored 10 apiece albeit on a combined 9-for-29 clip. TNT made just 34.1 percent of their shots in the loss.
"They weren't shooting the ball extremely well. The open shots that they did get, they didn't knock down. In Game 2, I think they had 28 three-point shots in the first half only. We made it a point to come out and really try to limit the number of attempts - not the makes, but the number of attempts," Cone noted. "We did that a little bit more, we were a little bit disciplined defensively and it held them down. Now whether we can do that again, we'll see. It's a tough thing to do."
Ginebra (80) - Tenorio 16, Brownlee 14, Devance 13, Thompson 10, Pringle 9, Slaughter 8, Aguilar 6, Caguioa 4.
TNT (72) - Jones 24, Rosario 12, Pogoy 10, Castro 10, Trollano 9, Heruela 3, Washington 2, Taha 2, Reyes 0, Semerad D. 0.
Quarters: 21-14, 42-32, 57-57, 80-72.
According to PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III, this was TNT's lowest output in a game in 16 conferences since the 2014 Philippine Cup, where they dropped a 77-63 decision against Petron on November 23, 2013.
Ginebra also avoided losing a fourth consecutive do-or-die game. The last time the team won in one was in the 2017 PBA Governors' Cup finals against Meralco.