For Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, the game was defined as a tale of two halves.
What was a close affair in the first 24 minutes became a rout for most of the second half as his team held off the Meralco Bolts, 92-84, in Game 3 of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals Sunday evening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra outscored Meralco 35-16 in the third quarter to widen what had been a narrow 43-42 lead at the half. The win gives Ginebra a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"[The Bolts] were tough to handle. For the most part, we were able to get our game going tonight. That's the way we play. We got some stops and got on the open court. Stanley [Pringle] had a bunch of spectacular plays," Cone said after the game.
However, Allen Durham surged for 12 points in the fourth to trim a 23-point deficit to just five, 87-82, with 2:04 left in the game, as he finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and six turnovers.
Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee had an all-around statline of 24 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, including some big assists down the stretch, which led to an LA Tenorio triple, and a Japeth Aguilar layup to clinch the game. Aguilar also put up 23 points and seven blocked shots.
"It's a great team win. Everybody was really focused. We were shaky in the beginning ... We had a defensive mindset throughout the whole game. That's what we pride ourselves on," said Brownlee.
Pringle was also instrumental in the critical third quarter, posting 17 points in the period.
Meralco guard Chris Newsome had a contrasting performance of 24 points and six rebounds, wherein he scored 20 in the first half.
The Bolts were dealt a huge loss as big man Raymond Almazan suffered a left knee strain at the 5:55 mark of the first quarter. He was carried to the dugout and did not return.
Almazan was immediately brought to a hospital for further evaluation.
Game 4 will be played this Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the same venue.
Ginebra (92) -- Brownlee 24, Aguilar 23, Pringle 21, Tenorio 11, Slaughter 6, Thompson 5, Devance 2, Mariano 0, Dillinger 0.
Meralco (84) -- Newsome 24, Durham 23, Faundo 10, Jackson 8, Amer 6, Pinto 3, Quinto 2, Hodge 2, Almazan 2, Caram 2, Maliksi 2, Hugnatan 0.
Quarter Scores: 24-21, 43-42, 78-58, 92-84
- Despite a violent eruption from the Taal Volcano in Batangas, 16,001 managed to troop to the Big Dome, the second-largest crowd of the season, according to league statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
- In the crucial third quarter, Ginebra managed to dish out nine assists without making a turnover. Meralco, meanwhile, coughed the ball eight times.
- Meralco still managed to out hustle Ginebra on the boards, 50-36.