Barangay Ginebra had to dig deep to weather a furious fourth quarter push by San Miguel and hack out a 129-124 win in Sunday's PBA Governors' Cup action at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee recorded another triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists, while Stanley Pringle added 27 points, six dimes and six boards to help the Kings move to 2-2. LA Tenorio also chipped in 19 points and four triples.
The Kings posted their biggest lead of the game at 87-69 in the third quarter and looked to cruise the rest of the way, but San Miguel would not go down easily and pushed back thanks to Von Pessumal, who drained three straight 3s in the fourth to slice it to 113-108 with 5:12 left.
Dez Wells took over at that point by converting a three-point play and assisting on a June Mar Fajardo roll to the rim to make it a two-point game, 113-111 -- at which point coach Tim Cone got flashbacks of their Dubai loss to NLEX, who erased a 28-point Kings lead to steal the win in overtime.
"Yeah, the same things happened to us again. We just couldn't make every shot, but we knew we just needed one shot to stop the momentum. We actually got that this time," Cone noted.
The answer first came in the form of Stanley Pringle, who slowed down that Beermen march with a tip-in to give Ginebra a 115-111 lead at the 3:52 mark.
"That killed their momentum right there. That was a big, big shot that we needed. Usually those kind of shots come from extra effort, and Stanley did that extra effort of getting that rebound, crashing the offensive board, jumping with the big guys, getting a finger on the ball," described the coach.
Momentum then shifted to Ginebra, who continued to counter through a pressing Brownlee. He scored five straight of his own and dished it to a cutting Japeth Aguilar for his own and-1 opportunity to give the Kings a 123-114 cushion.
The Beermen threatened for a bit once more behind Wells, who found Fajardo again underneath and converted on a fastbreak lay-in to pull SMB to three, 125-122, with 28.5 seconds left. But that would be the last that Ginebra saw of them as Tenorio and Pringle sank four free throws to put the game away.
"What a challenge it is to play that team. But that's why we play basketball: for those challenges. We been a team that's very schizophrenic. We've been playing one good half, then a bad half, and a good half. This is the first time that we've put two good halves together. You have to, against a San Miguel team," a relieved Cone said.
"Guys held tough. It's tough to hold back a team like that. When they get it going, it's like the floodgates are all open and the water's rushing, you don't know what to do. It can be very disconcerting. Real proud of our guys for figuring their way through that," he added.
Another x-factor for Ginebra was the rise of Jeff Chan, who scored 12 of his 15 points in a strong second quarter that helped the Kings post a 71-59 lead at the break. Chan added four assists and knocked down 3-of-4 shots from long range for what was easily his best game of the conference yet,
"I had a meeting with Jeff yesterday, I told him we're gonna commit to him now. He's healthy, you can see he's moving much better defensively. He's got his legs now and I told him I'm going to commit to him so be ready. We're gonna get him into the rotation, and he responded extremely well," noted Cone.
"He hit big shots for us, especially in the first half. Made a couple of good defensive plays. He can be a real key player for us in the rotation because he really spreads the floor for our bigs. He just has to learn our defense and what we do defensively and if he can do that, his value offensively is off the charts," the coach added.
Ginebra was successfully able to nullify a tremendous offensive show by Wells, who ended with 52 big points to eclipse TNT KaTropa's KJ McDaniels 51-point mark for the highest so far in the Govern0r's Cup. Wells made 16 of 25 shots from the field and added seven rebounds, five dimes and three steals.
Four other players scored in double-figures for the Beermen, who absorbed their first loss of the conference to slide to a 4-1 record. Marcio Lassiter came up big and hit 16 points and four treys, while Fajardo threw in a 16-point, 17-rebound double-double. Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross added 12 and 10 each.
The Kings will have another difficult assignment on their hands when they face the Magnolia Hotshots in a weej,
"To play Magnolia and San Miguel back-to-back is an incredible challenge. [One week of rest is] good and bad. We'd like to keep our momentum from this game and move to another one, but at least we'll be fresh and we'll have time to prepare. Maybe do a couple of new things, new twists before we play Magnolia," he said.
Barangay Ginebra (129) -- Brownlee 28, Pringle 27, Tenorio 19, Aguilar 17, Chan 15, Dela Cruz 11, Slaughter 8, Mariano 4, Thompson 0.
San Miguel (124) -- Wells 52, Lassiter 16, Fajardo 16, Cabagnot 12, Ross 10, Pessumal 9, Santos 7, Standhardinger 2, Nabong 0.
Quarters: 35-32, 71-59, 96-85, 129-124.
- This is Ginebra's first win after Cone was named head coach of Gilas Pilipinas. They dropped their last two games before this one.
- Tenorio is now seven 3-pointers away from becoming the seventh player in PBA history with at least 1000 3s. In front of him are Allan Caidic, Ronnie Magsanoc, Al Solis, Jimmy Alapag, Dondon Hontiveros and James Yap.
- Arwind Santos also tied Mick Pennisi for eighth all-time in the three-point leaderboard (963).
- Ginebra vs. Magnolia on Oct 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum
- San Miguel vs. NorthPort on Oct. 23 at the Cuneta Astrodome